Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Brut Réserve 2007
I had been standing in the dimly-lit subterranean gallery for close to a couple of hours when I felt the first shiver course up and then down my spine. I think I had lasted out quite well. After all, two hours at 12ºC, the ambient temperature in the cellars where I stood, was not to be sniffed at . Especially when you consider I was wearing nothing but a t-shirt and shorts, clothing eminently suitable for the baking summer above ground but which I now realised was not an ideal choice for these subterranean corridors. As the second shiver took hold of my bones I resolved that I should wear extra layers on my next visit. And maybe a couple of blankets too. And maybe a sheepskin rug. And a hot water bottle wouldn’t go amiss either. That should just about do it.
During the course of that visit to Domaine du Clos Naudin I tasted some fantastic wines. Aside from the current and recent releases, we tasted wines from the early 1990s and late 1980s, moelleux and moelleux reserve cuvées which told you exactly why the wines of Vouvray have such a broad and intelligent following. These are brilliant wines which will age almost indefinitely. Well, tasting the oldest examples of the style from my own cellar, largely from the 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995 and 1996 vintages, it certainly feels that way.
It is not always the oldest and the grandest wines that linger in my memory though, and that was certainly true of that tasting with Philippe Foreau. I knew Philippe made a straight single-vintage sparkling cuvée, of course. I also knew his Brut Réserve, a wine which could wipe the floor with most sparkling wines from the same appellation (and many other appellations too), and which by that time I had been buying and drinking for more than a few years. But it was a great surprise to learn of a sparkling wine treated to a longer period of aging on the less. Philippe had kept 700 bottles of the his 2002 vintage resting sur lattes and awaiting disgorgement. Even taking into account the time required for the first fermentation, blending and then bottling for the second fermentation, the wine must have spent at least eleven years sur lattes. Move over, Bollinger RD.
Four years have passed since that tasting and sadly that cuvée has never appeared on the market. It is perhaps not surprising; there were only 700 bottles produced, akin to the fabulous Goutte d’Or cuvée. Indeed, I have just about given up hope of ever seeing a bottle. Fortunately the straight Brut Réserve cuvée is rather easier to track down, and in the past year I have been enjoying both the 2005 and 2007 vintages (it was also produced in 2008, although this vintage has proven rather elusive…….so far). In the glass the 2007 Vouvray Brut Réserve from Philippe Foreau has a fairly rich, straw-gold hue, with a prominent but very fine mousse. This is matched by a wonderfully evocative nose, very expressive, filled with crushed orange, sweet peach and apricot fruit, mixed with smoky mineral character. It has a very full, broad and confident start on the palate, dry but showing sweetly ripe citrus and warm stone fruit, swirled with mineral elements, fragrant vanilla flower, deliciously bitter liquorice root, with lots of firm, sinewy, vinous texture. It all culminates in a very focused finish, polished, savoury and long. This is quite brilliant. 96/100 (9/7/18)
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