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Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Moelleux Réserve 1995

Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Moelleux Réserve 1995

It is not unusual that I find myself coveting certain wines, although they are not perhaps the wines you would expect. Anybody can covet a bottle of Petrus or Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Screaming Eagle or Harlan. These wines are famous, exclusive, special and importantly – this being perhaps the greatest barrier to buying a bottle – they command a very high price. I find myself coveting different vinous experiences though; for example, I would like very much to get to know the wines of Domaine Brégeon in Muscadet, a domaine now run by Fred Lallier, much better than I do. This is ever since I drank the 2004 Gorges, back in 2011 (gosh, was it really that long ago?). The problem here is not price, but availability; these wines just aren’t that easy to find. I have spent seven years yearning for another bottle.

Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Moelleux Réserve 1995

Other wines I covet include pretty much everything made by Philippe Foreau, and I have to say several other domaines in Vouvray as well. Thankfully the availability of these wines is somewhat better; they are more widely distributed, they don’t tend to disappear from the market overnight, and unlike some of those famous names mentioned above you don’t need to be on the right mailing lists, or best friends with a favoured merchant, to get your hands on a bottle.

One thing I do have trouble doing – or at least remembering to do, because once the cork is pulled there is no hardship – is getting around to drinking them. There is no harm in coveting bottles, but hoarding them and never pulling the cork is definitely a sin. Wine was made for drinking. So recently I have been trying to make amends, pulling a few old Vouvrays from the cellar, from Philippe Foreau and also François Pinon. Not only have I been greatly enjoying this, but it has been useful in freeing up some space in my cellar. I have a lot of bottles stacked up outside at the moment – wines from Damien Laureau, Eric Nicolas and Jonathan Pabiot – which need a home.

Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Moelleux Réserve 1995

The 1995 vintage in the Loire Valley is not one I have really focused on over the years, even though I have had some fantastic bottles which leap immediately to mind, the 1995 Coteaux du Layon Onnis from Domaine des Forges being the first to do so. On the whole it was a successful vintage, certainly more so than the four that came before it, but to my mind it has never been at quite at the same level as 1996 or 1997, although some do lump all three together as a high-quality trio. The weather in late summer was delightful, and the fruit was practically ripe before rains arrived in September. But then October was dry again, and the conditions for harvest were good, in particular for sweet wines, as evinced by that 1995 Onnis, and also by this week’s Weekend Wine.

In the glass the 1995 Vouvray Moelleux Réserve from Domaine du Clos Naudin has a fabulous burnished orange-gold hue, one that feels very typical of a botrytis-influenced cuvée, a characteristic of Philippe’s Moelleux Réserve, the straight Moelleux cuvée tending to focus more on passerillage than noble rot. This botrytis character also comes through on the nose which is filled with the scents of oranges, lemon balm, coconut, quince and candied apricot. This broadens out to reveal richer scents reminiscent of macaroons and freshly baked oat biscuits along with some exotic spices. It feels nicely evolved, undeniably suggesting a fine sweetness, but it still feels strict and defined. This promising beginning is followed by a wonderfully fresh palate, showing a very complete style, sinewy in terms of structure, pure and bright, sweet and yet full of energy, grip and pithy confidence, all backed up by a surging wave of acid. This is a supremely classic example of botrytised Vouvray after it has been in bottle a couple for more than twenty years, complex and giving plenty of joy right now, although the truth is this wine, based on tasting many other successful vintages from the 20th century, should continue to develop beautifully over the next few decades. So I can go on coveting, buying and drinking it (in repeated cycles if necessary) for many years yet. 97/100 (13/8/18)

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