Philippe Pollet Vouvray Sec 1983

A little bit of oenological archaeology this week, as I dive back into Vouvray with the 1983 Vouvray Sec from Philippe Pollet, a vigneron who laid down his secateurs for good many years ago.

While not the most famous name in Vouvray, Philippe Pollet was a well-known vigneron of his time. He was based in the Vallée de Nouys, which runs vaguely westwards away from the top of the village of Vouvray itself. The valley has long been home to a number of significant domaines, most notably Domaine des Aubuisières, today run by Charles Lesaffre who took over from Bernard Fouquet during the Covid-19 pandemic, and Domaine Pichot, home to Christophe Pichot and family. Philippe Pollet’s cellars were situated roughly halfway between the two, on the left-hand side of the Rue de la Vallée de Nouys at the foot of the Coteau Chatrie (the lieu-dit is named La Chatterie on cadastral maps, but lets not quibble about spelling). Today they are in the hands of Pierre Chainier, a large vineyard-owning négociant.

Philippe Pollet Vouvray Sec 1983

Of course, Philippe Pollet was not the first in charge of these ancient cellars. That much is hardly surprising; excavated from the tuffeau rock behind, these are ancient caves which are many centuries old. The previous tenant was none other than Maurice Audebert, one of the more renowned vignerons of the appellation during the course of the 20th century.

Writing in Les Vins de Loire (Parisienne d’Editions Techniques et Commerciales, 1956), Pierre Bréjoux listed the vignerons he thought were producing wines of the highest quality. Among more familiar names, such as Armand Foreau (of Domaine du Clos Naudin, and Philippe Foreau’s grandfather), the peremptorily referenced V. et G. Huet (obviously father-and-son team Victor and Gaston of Domaine Huet), and Camille Pinon and Claude Pinon (grandfather and father respectively to the late François Pinon) we find listed one Maurice Audebert. If you are lucky you can still find wines from Maurice Audebert in the market today, and from good vintages such as 1947, 1952 or 1955 they are still worth a punt.

Philippe Pollet Vouvray Sec 1983

Anyway, back to Philippe Pollet, who was sufficiently proud that he had taken over from Maurice that he wrote it on his labels (pictured above). He produced a number of cuvées including wines from the famed Clos des Nouys (more on those another time), one of several dozen historic clos in Vouvray, a sad number of which have been lost or forgotten. This week’s wine hails from a vintage with a decent reputation in some parts of the Loire Valley, although here in Vouvray 1983 is remembered as a year of high humidity with rain and end-of-season fog, with a high risk of botrytis and rot. As a consequence the viticulteurs and vignerons of the day favoured sparkling and sec styles.

In the glass the 1983 Vouvray Sec from Philippe Pollet, successeur de Maurice Audebert, displays a rich and golden hue, showing obvious maturity, but this is only appropriate for its age. The nose opens with some rather leanly expressed notes of blanched almond and white truffle, but with time it evolves some richer tones, developing layers of dried citrus fruits, candied peel and buttered toast, with a little lift from the suggestions of crushed chalk and white pepper. Interestingly, I also note little threads of black tea leaf and praline here, both of which suggest to me that – regardless of how sec this wine might be – there is some botrytis in here too. The palate is polished and full, with great substance, a pithy grip supporting layers of caramelised and candied fruits, a touch of traditionalist’s wet wool (although finding it here only reinforces my belief this side of Vouvray is more fungal than varietal), along with some sour acidity and some sweet textural substance too, before it culminates in a rather charged finish. This is showing really well for its forty years, with a long finish too. It is clearly well set up for more time in the cellar yet (which is good, because this isn’t my last bottle). Of note, there is no alcohol declared on the label – how times change. 90/100 (26/6/23)

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