The Ultimate Vouvray Wine Guide
Vouvray. It’s more than a bottle of white wine.
The name also refers to a world-renowned region of the Loire Valley in the Touraine district of France, famous for its diverse family of delicate, aromatic wines made from Chenin Blanc.
Whether you opt for a sweet, dry, or sparkling Vouvray, each sip of this complex French wine will leave you wanting another.
In this post, we’ll cover everything to know about Vouvray, from the region’s storied and turbulent history to the perfect pairings for your next tall glass.
Read on to learn all about this complex family of vino and why you might want to seek out a bottle or two for your next sip of mouthwatering French wine.
The History of Vouvray
In many ways, the history of Vouvray is inextricably tied to the grape that made it famous — Chenin Blanc.
The region of Vouvray dates back to the middle ages in Europe. Around the 7th century, the Catholic Church cultivated vineyards near the monasteries in Touraine in order to ferment wine for the Sacrament of the Holy Communion.
It was around this time that the Chenin Blanc grape, known locally as the Pineau de la Loire, originated in the Anjou region and was brought to Vouvray.
After a thousand years or so of local enjoyment, Dutch traders promulgated Chenin Blanc vineyards all throughout Vouvray and the Loire Valley. The merchants blended Chenin Blanc grapes and bottled the concoction under the label “Vouvray.”
The Dutch combined knowledge of the land with wise business acumen and dug into hidden caves in the Loire Valley, constructing wine cellars out of the craggy rock and excavating tuggeau stones to build châteaus.
These cold, isolated caves proved perfect for wine aging and heavily boosted Vouvray’s reputation all throughout France and broader Europe.
Finally, in 1936, the Vouvray wine region earned an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), covering the seven surrounding villages in Touraine and providing a bedrock for Vouvray to continue to grow in popularity and quality throughout the remaining twentieth century and beyond.
The Different Styles of Vouvray Wine
While it hasn’t always been the case, the most popular Vouvray form today is the sparkling variety. The majority of these are bottled using the méthode champenoise or the traditional method used during the bottling of Champagne.
Much of the variety to be found in Vouvray comes in the different amounts of sugar in each bottle.
There are many different sweetness levels of Vouvray wine, ranging from hardly any residual sugar to nearly the same amount of sugar as a can of Coke! Here’s a quick breakdown of the different sweetness levels you’ll find across Vouvray:
- Brut — The dryest, crispest type of Vouvray, with less than one gram of residual sugar per glass.
- Sec — Slightly more sugar than a Brut Vouvray, with barely perceptible levels of sweetness.
- Demi-Sec — This is a “sweet spot” of Vouvray for many wine enthusiasts.
- Moelleux — The sweetest, richest variety of Vouvray. Each sip is concentrated with candied ginger flavors and delightfully tart pear notes.
The Tasting Notes of Vouvray Chenin Blanc
Now that we’ve covered the history of the region and the different sweetness levels of the wine, let’s get down to brass tacks — how does Vouvray taste?
There’s a vast array of flavors to be found in the world of Vouvray, with aromas ranging from intensely fruity with a vibrant bouquet of apple, honeysuckle, and pear while the dryer, crisper vintages are suffused with mature minerality.
Nearly all Vouvray wines are made with Chenin Blanc grapes, which exhibit sweet and sour characteristics sure to please the acidity lovers among us. Seek out tart lemon verbena and creamy butterscotch brimming with vibrant yellow apple.
These more subtle bottles benefit from a mindful, attentive sipping experience. You just might discover more complex notes layered under the surface like ginger and herbs.
Best Pairings for Vouvray Wine
Vouvray pairs well with hundreds of delicious dishes, including some of your favorite lighter meats and rich seafood. Let’s explore the four different types of Vouvray you’re likely to encounter and which dishes make the best duo for the glass on hand.
If you’re drinking a sparkling Vouvray, look towards lighter seafood fare like sushi or sashimi.
If you have a more robust Vouvray on hand, you could cook up some tender roast pork loin or pork belly to bring out the more layered flavor profile of the wine.
A dry Vouvray pairs beautifully with light veggies, crunchy salads, flaky white fish, or an airy soufflé.
Of course, one of the other stars from the Loire Valley, chevre (goat cheese), makes a great pair to many French wines and a dry Vouvray is no exception.
Demi-Sec or Moelleux Vouvray
These sweeter Vouvrays pair wonderfully with baked desserts as well as a delicate foie gras or tarte Tatin.
Say Hooray For Vouvray
From its early days of aging in caves built by Dutch merchants to its modern sparkling renaissance, Vouvray wine built an indelible legacy on the French countryside and formed an unbreakable bond with one of the most revered of all white grapes — Chenin Blanc.
If you were wondering where to buy Vouvray wine and other French wines like it, look no further than Wine Insiders.
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While you’re waiting for your order to arrive, read through our blog to learn all about Chenin Blanc and the regions and wineries to visit on your next country road trip through the French countryside.