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The slow death of artisan Vouvray

I have just made two trips to Vouvray, to one of my oldest and dearest wine friends, had a wonderful three-hour lunch with him, his wife and family (sadly not involved in the wine business) and was saddened by some of the conversation.
It seems, perhaps somewhat similar to the avaricious English winemakers, the young guns taking over in Vouvray are interested only in the more immediately lucrative sparkling styles.
Around 90% of Vouvray production is now fizz and whilst a decent and inexpensive (well in France at least) bottle of bubbles, this greedy vogue is heralding the demise of the still wine variants. I returned home with eighteen bottles of a mixture of 1989 and 1990 moelleux Vouvray. It won’t be there much longer!

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Is it not just free market capitalism in action?

If sweet wine isn’t selling - and all the data out there suggests it’s consumption is in sharp decline - then surely better to make a living than lose a business to the martyrdom of maintaining a dying industry, no? Either that, or they could go all niche-marketing like Rieussec and charge the earth for glitzy packaging? I’m not sure either are desirable, are they?

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Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in my invective. Vouvray can be made in all styles, sec, demi-sec, moelleux and doux. It isn’t like Sauternes and Barsac. Young still Vouvray in the sec and demi-sec style is a wonderful wine, destined for the history books I feel.

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The only mention you made was to Moelleux. I apologise for misconstruing this :sunglasses:

Sorry my error. My contact is retired and has made no wine for about ten years. I particularly like the older style sweeties, both 89 and 90 being wonderful still.

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I’m afraid the news is the same for pretty much all sweet wines around France., from VDN to Jurancon, to Sauternes. It’s a dying art. The interesting thing is that it hasn’t seen an upsurge in the drier styles, which pretty much everywhere else that has a reputation for sweeties has experienced.

Possibly because Chenin Blanc can make excellent fizz, perhaps moreso than any other grapes outside Champagne?

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We’ve been sourcing Vouvray from Francois Pinon for a few years. Mainly dry but a few demi sec and sparkling. I found out he died recently so I hope his family are willing and able to continue because I’ve found all his wine delicious.

Not the same, I realise, but not too far is Montlouis-su-Loire, is it the same situation there? I have only 1 bottle left from visiting Franck Breton (also recommended). It’s a Moelleux but I have no experience with this style, does it typically age well or should I order a load of Foie Gras and get stuck in? It’s around 60g of RS.

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Although I have come to love the sweet Vouvrays, the first I ever had was a dry,and I still seek these out. The problems may be not lack of interest in sweet wines but over emphasis on a few well known regions which are easy to sell and over emphasis on sparkling wines. Even in this group (and in WS promotions and prizes) it is always assumed that fizzy is best. It isn’t.

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Hello James. I’m not aware of the situation in Montlouis which for many years has been a very similar particularly in the drier sec variant. My contact is eighty-four and has rented out his vineyard for income but it now produces only sparkling :slightly_frowning_face:

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Very sad to hear. To me, Vouvray is synonymous with demi-sec. Of course the moelleux are incredible and with decent age are easily as good as any Sauternes.

A few years a go we had the most wonderful tour of the Marc Bredif caves. All the wines were fabulous. The dry whites is really lovely, I’ve still got one bottle left to enjoy at some point! (we couldn’t keep away from the moelleux , that’s long gone!).

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Well, if it is any consolation, savennieres seems to be going strong in both the dry and sweeter variants.

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The François Pinon Vouvray wines are great. Julien Pinon is carrying on his father’s wonderful work. I particularly like the Déronnières and Sec and wish TWS stocked them!

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Or in the case of English wine, it is a question of getting a wine tradition started on a sound economic footing. I think describing makers of English wine “avaricious” was totally uncalled for.

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Puttting my head above the parapet here (with some awful generalisation) perhaps some Vouvray producer’s are resting on their laurels. I absolutely love the similar Savennières wines and that beeswax note which arrives with bottle age.

Labelling is an issue: it’s not obvious where many Vouvray are on a dry-to-sweet scale. TWS are very helpful but the lable itself often isnt.

5 to 10 y/o dry, still, Vouvray is almost impossible to find for a reasonable price.

I have had MANY more cork tainted (TCA) bottles of Loire Chenin than any other region, synthetic corks exist - why do they not use them?

Vouvray isn’t cheap although I can live with that, for a quality wine. However I have given up - because it is disheartening to spend £25+ and find the wine isnt ‘sec’ but is actually demi-sec… or is faulty.

Sorry but I hardly think that the English Wine industry is on a ‘sound economic footing’ being resourced by the promiscuous venture capital speculators.

I paid £300 for 18 bottles of 1989 and 1990 moelleux. I don’t consider that expensive.

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Coteaux du Layon can be a reasonable substitute. I just noticed a couple of 2021 Cadys on the list. (And some reductions in price on old Huets, but still out of my range.)

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Why not? And what would you suggest as an alternative?

(Not that this has anything to do with my objection to you calling English winemakers “avaricious”)

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Surely not an issue exclusive to English wine?!

I suspect back in the day your favourite Vouvray producers might have relied on some funding to get established. No?

Damn those ye olde worlde Loire valley bankers and their avaricious ways… :roll_eyes:

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That sounds like an absolute bargain! (if in good condition) - perhaps the excellent price reflects the risk of cork taint? I’ve certainly seen older Vouvray’s going for a song at auction.