François Pinon Vouvray Moelleux 1990
Last year I resolved to pull more older bottles from the cellar, and drink them, rather than hoard them. I am not intentionally a hoarder, it is just that with a good stock of moelleux Vouvray from 1989 and 1990, as well as a number of other vintages from the 1990s (typically 1993, 1995 and 1996), I realised I should be pulling the corks more often than I do. Indeed, I have stacks of cases packed full with older (and younger) bottles of Quarts de Chaume, moelleux Vouvray, Coteaux du Layon, Sauternes and Barsac, and the truth is I should be drinking all of these sweet wines on a more regular basis (and maybe stop buying so many?).
As resolutions go, though, while I have made a sterling effort (honest, I have), I am not sure I have really been that successful. It was only in September last year that I got around to the 1989 Vouvray Moelleux from François Pinon, and it has taken me another three months to get around to this weekend’s wine, his equivalent effort from the 1990 vintage. There has, in the meantime, been the 2000 Château de Fesles Bonnezeaux, the 1997 Château Pierre-Bise Coteaux du Layon Beaulieu Les Rouannières and the 1995 Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Moelleux Réserve, among others. But I am hardly going to clear the cellar at this rate. I guess I will just have to try harder.
The 1990 vintage was a great one in Vouvray. Fans of the appellation and the wines will already know their preferences, but as a quick recap, this is one of two back-to-back vintages which produced wines of excellent quality. In 1989 the wines were less marked by botrytis, with a more minerally and acid-framed character as a result. In 1990, however, the vineyards of Vouvray saw a more convincing attack of botrytis, and as a result the sweet wines tend to have a broader and richer character. Of course this is a generalisation, and it depends on the cuvée in question, but the wines of 1990 tend to channel the botrytis flavours over the mineral, while perhaps the opposite is true for those from the 1989 vintage. Personally I enjoy drinking both, and with this in mind I come now to this weekend’s wine, the 1990 Vouvray Moelleux from François Pinon.
In the glass the 1990 François Pinon Vouvray Moelleux has a light golden hue with a burnished orange-gold touch of richness which feels typical for an entry-level moelleux cuvée in this vintage. The nose, however, is rather fresher than many from this vintage, offering up scents of crystalline confit pear, candied citrus peel, smoked ginger and saffron, with some crunchy and salty mineral suggestions. It does not present the botrytis intensity you might expect from a 1990, instead majoring on freshness and precision, and I suspect this reflects this wine’s position in the portfolio as an ‘entry level’ moelleux, with presumably a percentage of non-botrytised fruit includes. The palate has purity and form on its side, although it does have a little old-school feel to it, showing delicate seams of residual sugar and amaroidal citrus pith, a light sweetness intertwined with an attractively amaroidal Chenin bitterness. The finish feels slightly fatter and grained though, and here there is a little flourish of praline and caramel botrytis character, which carries the wine into a more confident length. Overall this is good, certainly fine for drinking now, and although I have previously expressed doubts about how many more years this cuvée in 1990 has ahead of it I suspect it will hold up for another decade or so, perhaps much longer. I am guilty, I think, of under-estimating its aging potential. Whatever its true potential is, I certainly have sufficient bottles tucked away to find out for myself, given time. 94/100 (7/1/19)
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