Variety: Chenin Blanc
Country, Region: France, Loire Valley
The “Reserve” label of moelleux appears only occasionally in vintages that have the perfect conditions for making great sweet wines. This label is solely for botrytis affected fruit with this wine sporting 130g residual sugar. A big step up in intensity and weight and richness with flavours of confit apple and pear with little hints of caramelization with delicate hints of hazelnut all the while underpinned with a very fine vein of acidity and a hint of salinity on the very long finish.
‘Usually Philippe Foreau’s top cuvée (although usurped in this vintage by the Première Trie and Quatrième Trie cuvées), this Vouvray focuses the spotlight on fruit with botrytis-induced concentration rather than passerillage. Now at thirty years of age it displays a brilliant orange-gold hue in the glass, richly pigmented, but still bright and crystal clear. Aromatically it is captivating from start to finish, beginning with the nose which presents aromas of grilled oranges, black truffle, perfumed Kalamata olive, black tea leaf and pepper. The palate builds on this early promise, showing a fabulously complete style, sinewy and broad, but with a silky composure and wonderfully integrated texture and composition. And yet, it remains very tense, vivacious and lifted, and with time it is apparent that the palate is no less brilliantly complex than the nose, the middle brimming with flavours of truffle and intensely desiccated fruits, backed up by a deliciously tingling acidity. Brilliant, long, ethereal in its balance, and yet substantial in its presence. A stunning wine.’ 99 points, Chris Kissack, The Wine Doctor, April 2020.
'A shimmering orange-gold hue, a long way from the usual pale straw or lemon-gold hue you would see in most youthful sec and demi-sec cuvées. Aromatically it is striking, with scents of preserved oranges, minerals, chalk dust, verbena and truffle, showing a lovely citrus vivacity, wrapped within a grey-smoke purity. It maintains this wonderful confidence on the palate where it shows concentrated yet energetic character, rich and yet vivacious, full of intense acid freshness. The flavours and textural weight dance around one another, the midpalate brimming with notes of preserved oranges, truffles, white pepper and vanilla macaroons, this intense flavour profile and evident sweetness wrapped in a sorbet-like purity and energy, tied off with great acidity. These various textures and flavours come together to suggest on occasion iced mango and ginger with the faintest touch of caramel, harmonious and precise, with no flattening out or dulling of the impact as the palate progresses, the wine staying upright and lifted, dancing along right to the finish. It is as you might expect very long, with an almost bitter-pithy vibrancy, but it is that midpalate drive and vivacity that really defines the style. This is a superb, light-footed yet substantial wine that lingers forever. While brilliant now, this clearly has a very long future ahead of it yet.' 99 points, Chris Kissack, The Wine Doctor, April 2020.
'The wines of Philippe Foreau could perhaps be considered the ultimate expression of the Vouvray vineyard. He exhibits great care in tending his vines, has a reasoned approach to his work in the vineyard, and in the cellar there is minimal manipulation and the restrained use of older wood for fermentation ... When he allows a little sugar in the wine, in the demi-sec cuvee in particular, this immediately leads to an electrifying balance of all Vouvray should be, pure, off-dry, fresh and capable of evolving great complexity.' Chris Kissack, The Wine Doctor.
This great Vouvray estate was founded in 1923 (5 years before the Huet family) and is now run by Vincent Foreau who took over from his father Philippe in 2016. Their cellar master Hubert Vacher has been working with the Foreau family since the 1970s and this small and beautiful domaine has remained at just 11.5 hectares in size (less than 1/3 the size of Huet who are their neighbours across the little street). Clos Naudin does not relate to a single "clos"owned by the estate but rather the family have numerous holdings that have remained the same for decades. Three quarters of the family holdings are located above the village on the famed Premier Cote, centred on the Les Perruches vineyard, adjacent to Le Mont.
Work in the vineyards is all done with minimal inputs and vines replaced using massale selection. Hand harvesting and natural-yeast fermentation in mostly aged 300 litre barrels and without malolactic conversion, results in wines of crystalline purity. Younger vines are mostly used for their excellent sparkling Vouvrays.