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Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Sec 2016

Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Sec 2016

I apologise in advance for the Vouvray love-in that is going on with my Weekend Wine reports at the moment. It is a true reflection of what I drink at home, and so I suppose it is inevitable that some appellations will feature more heavily than others from time to time. But I will try to throw in a wine or two from other regions over the next few weeks, I promise. Maybe even something from Bordeaux.

I also apologise for the fact that not only are these weekly reports a little Vouvray-heavy at the moment, one or two or three domaines – specifically François Pinon, Philippe Foreau and Vincent Carême – seem to be cropping up with some regularity. Again, this is purely a reflection of my drinking. And this week’s wine is one I simply have to cast the spotlight on as I have been hinting at it for several weeks now, having alluded to it in my previous 2017 Domaine des Tilleuls Essentielle and 2016 Pierre Menard Clos des Mailles reports. This is yet another example of one of those wines that creeps up on you when you are expecting it least of all, and with a powerful surge of minerally joy reminds you of all those emotions you experienced during the early days of wine discovery.

Subscribers, regular readers and indeed all Loire geeks will already know the wines of Philippe Foreau pretty well. But there is something interesting about this bottle worth mentioning, although you have to be pretty eagle-eyed to spot it. The 2016 vintage marks a change on the label, from Ph. Foreau (Philippe, the father) which has been on the label for as long as I have been buying the wines, to V. Foreau (Vincent, Philippe’s son). In truth the two have been working together for some years now, and I suspect this change on the label simply reflects Philippe having signed over the business to his son, just as his own father André Foreau once did for him, back in 1983.

Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Sec 2016

Philippe Foreau thus regards 1983 as the first year in which he was really in full control of the family domaine. After several difficult vintages, in 1980, 1981 and 1982, sadly for Philippe neither 1983 nor 1984 were much better. It must have been disheartening for the young Philippe, who came to the coal-face a few years before the Champalou family (who started with just half a hectare in 1983), Bernard Fouquet (who really didn’t start until the late 1980s) and François Pinon (who didn’t take over from his father until 1987). His peers escaped all or most of these very difficult years. It wasn’t until the magnificent 1989 and 1990 vintages that this cohort of new-generation arrivals could really show what they and their vines were capable of. But what great vintages in which to do so.

Happily, it would seem that with Vincent’s arrival he is having a much better time of it than his father once did. While my feelings on the 2012 vintage in Vouvray are well known (It was a very difficult vintage) and when expressed caused me to be banned from one well-known domaine, there have been many more benevolent vintages in recent years. While the joy of 2009 and 2010 go unquestioned, and 2011 was an unexpected delight that produced the first vintage of Goutte d’Or at Domaine du Clos Naudin since 1990, 2014 was a simply delicious acid-defined vintage, and both 2015 and 2016 have given the vignerons of Vouvray much good material to work with. The more recent of these latter two vintages interests us here, in the shape of the 2016 Vouvray Sec from Domaine du Clos Naudin. The aromatic profile deserves a ‘wow’ (an expression usually reserved for the 1996 Cuvée Botrytis from François Pinon and various vintages of Château Léoville-Las-Cases), its hugely open and expressive nose filled with chalky minerals and white pepper to start, later softening a little to reveal nuances of apple and pear. But more than anything it is the tense, smoky, reductive and minerally aromatic energy that defines the wine. The palate feels correspondingly modern, reductive and tense, dry and bracing. There is not a drop of softening botrytis character evident here (a good thing), just a very incisive core of orchard fruit, mineral, chalk and matchstick. This is a very modern interpretation of the appellation, and it is quite stunning with it. A quite brilliant dry Vouvray which will develop well over many years in the cellar, I am sure, and which deserves an appropriately high score. Bravo to Vincent and Philippe. 96/100 (17/9/18)

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