Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Demi-Sec 2018

The third in my trio of wines from Vouvray (after a 2015 from Vincent Carême and a 2002 from Domaine Pichot) has me reminiscing about previous visits to this appellation. Looking back to days spent in Vouvray and its many cellars reminds me of how life used to be, before Covid-19, but it also reassures me of how it will be once more in the future, after the limbo of lockdown has eventually come to an end. We will all be free to travel, visit and taste again; will Philippe and Vincent Foreau be ready for the tidal wave of fervid Vouvray-deprived visitors knocking at their door, I wonder?

One of the most remarkable tastings I ever attended, back in the pre-Covid days of June 2019, was in Philippe’s cellars. I went along with Vincent Carême and, if memory serves me correctly, a couple of winemakers from South Africa. The Loire Valley and South Africa have one very obvious commonality in Chenin Blanc, and it has been wonderful to see beneficial cooperation and cross-pollination between the two regions in recent years, in many cases fostered by Vincent, who makes wine both in Vouvray and South Africa’s Swartland. We all enjoyed a superb tasting, capped off by Philippe, who was in a celebratory mood (if I recall correctly he was sixty years old that day), pulling the cork on one of his few remaining bottles of the 1921 vintage. If I can look forward to a tasting even half as memorable as that one after the lifting of lockdown, that will be good enough for me!

Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Demi-Sec 2018

At that tasting in 2019 it was no surprise when we kicked off with the 2018 vintage. In such a warm and benevolent year Philippe naturally did not produce a huge quantity of his 2018 Vouvray Sec, and what he did make came in at about 14% alcohol. Despite this I still thought it very good. The 2018 Vouvray Moelleux, which as always features fruit sweetened predominantly by passerillage, has between 70 and 80 g/l of residual sugar, and I adored the scented purity of its peach, mango and citrus fruits. The pièce de la resistance was the 2018 Vouvray Moelleux Réserve, built around a core of botrytised fruit, and carrying a remarkable 130 g/l residual sugar, an admirable figure for the moelleux style in Vouvray. It was stunning, still displaying wonderful fruit purity, but with a deep undercurrent of texture that belied the botrytis within, and it was clearly a wine of great potential. I have already added some of the latter to the cellar (it should be drinking well by the time I hit 70 or more likely 80 years of age).

Vouvray fans will notice one wine absent from that line up, as we did not taste Philippe’s demi-sec cuvée (I think perhaps it had just been bottled) and so in this third week of Weekend Wines from Vouvray I intend to fill in the gap with the 2018 Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Demi-Sec. Tasted at this stage it has held on to a very pale and youthful hue, much as my previous notes describe the sweeter wines. In keeping with this it remains in a very youthful state aromatically, with plenty of primary fruit, particularly freshly picked dessert apple and sweet pear, with vibrant citrus notes. Alongside, though, there are deliciously savoury notes of saline minerals which call to mind the energy and freshness I enjoyed so much in the 2016 Vouvray Sec from this same domaine. After this the palate can only be described as beautiful, with a polished and balanced style, succulent and showing great harmony, textured on one side, with a pithy energy on the other. Long and pure, the freshness and lift within this cuvée is remarkable; it is a great demi-sec. Here’s hoping I can visit in the next year to check out the 2019, 2020 or 2021 vintages. 95/100 (1/3/21)

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