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Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Brut 2013

Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Brut 2013

This year has been marked by one of the most remarkable encounters with wine I have ever experienced; subscribers will probably already guess that it was my meeting with the Foreau family’s 1921 Vouvray Moelleux, made by Philippe’s grandfather Armand two years before the domaine was inaugurated, to which I refer. The memory of the wine remains strong. Indeed, never mind the memories, I’m not certain that I can’t still taste it. And I suppose any wine with a finish lasting a little over six months deserves respect!

Of course the tasting did not start with the 1921 vintage; we kicked off with a wide-ranging look at recent vintages, including the freshly bottled 2018s, as well as wines from 2017 and 2016, before moving back through the years. We touched on old favourites such as 1990 and 2003, the latter a year in which Philippe’s production was almost exclusively moelleux, with a little demi-sec and no sec at all. As a consequence his stocks of this vintage, nearly two decade on, remain strong, and if you pay Philippe a visit you are almost guaranteed a taste.

Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Brut 2013

Another vintage in which Philippe’s production was skewed towards one end of the residual-sugar spectrum was 2013, although it was in the opposite direction to that seen in 2003. The growing season was a trying one for Vouvray, the hailstorm that ripped through the vineyards on June 17th a defining moment in the story of the vintage, inflicting damage across at least two-thirds of the appellation, in some cases wiping out the entire crop. While the summer that followed was unremarkable, September was rather cooler, then a warmer and humid finish that ran into October increased the risk of rot and the fruit – almost regardless of its condition or ripeness – was picked.

This was therefore a vintage for sec and sparkling wines rather than demi-sec or moelleux, and Philippe fell into line, producing only the first two. Having tasted the sec cuvée several times, including during my visit earlier this year, it is a good result in a difficult vintage. Nevertheless it was interesting to hear Philippe’s refreshingly honest admission that, if he could turn back time and re-run the vintage, he would forego the production of a sec cuvée entirely, and produce only sparkling wine. As it happens, Philippe has released the sparkling wine to which he refers during the course of the last few months, and this is my first look at it.

In the glass the 2013 Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Brut displays a pale straw-gold hue and a plentiful bead indicative of this wine’s relative youth. The style feels typical both of the appellation and the vintage, with an old-school lemon and blanched almond character apparent on the nose at first, wrapped in a fresh and reductive grey smoke. There are little hints of evolved complexity too, including cranberry and biscuit, and the latter comes through on the palate, where the lemon drop fruit is entwined around a core of toasted nut and oatmeal crunch. The structure is challenging, as this character sits on a bed of rather ribald acidity, which says a lot about the vintage, as does the overlaid distraction of all those toasty, biscuity elements. It has some length, but at this point it is much more about the acidity than the flavour. Nevertheless this is an admirable result for a difficult vintage, and I am sure Philippe is not the only vigneron who, if they could turn back time, would have focused on sparkling wine in this year. 90/100 (11/11/19)

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