As readers of this site know, we are huge fans of Snooth.com and particularly of their virtual wine tastings. We’ve waxed poetic about the fun and excitement of Snooth’s virtual wine tastings in previous articles ( Read: We Love those Lodi Wines! A report on a SNOOTH Virtual Wine Tasting ; Snooth’s Virtual Wine Tasting Takes You to Argentina ; One of the Most Civilized Things in the World: Hemmingway Loved It & The Advice Sisters Do, Too! ; a Virtual Wine Tasting is a Can’t Miss Experience for Wine Lovers).
Snooth.com’s virtual wine tastings are a fantastic way to taste and understand wines that one would generally not know about. They also offer an opportunity to ask questions about the wines at the same time they are being sampled and to interact with other wine fans from all around the world. Here is The Advice Sisters report on the latest event, a virtual wine tasting about Vouvray!
Earlier this month, Snooth.com’s Editor-in-Chief, Gregory Dal Piaz, hosted a virtual tasting featuring wines from the Vouvray region of France. The tasting also featured Master of Wine Christy Canterbury, who provided a great deal of information and context about Vouvray and the Chenin Blanc varietal that is featured in Loire Valley white wines. We were very pleasantly surprised with the quality and the value!
Vouvray is located in the center of the Loire Valley wine producing region, on top of a plateau east of the city of Tours. The high plateau is criss-crossed by small streams and rivers which provide a unique terroir and variable climate conditions. In fact, grapes in the Vouvray region are highly variable by vintage and recent years have not always been great. The area itself is full of “Disneyland castles,” and sits atop caves and limestone that give the grapes a distinctive minerality , and as Gregory Dal Piaz commented, a complexity or “layers and layers” to the wine.
According to Ms. Canterbury added that while there are some very high end Vouvray producers, much of this wine can be found in New York at between $15 and $25 a bottle making the region as a very good place to find world class wines at extremely good prices.
According to Ms. Canterbury, about 52 percent of all of the wine produced in Vouvray is sparkling wine, using the method champenoise, with a minimum of 12 months on the lees. The use of the Chenin Blanc grape varietal brings out the terroir, and produce a distinctive “wet dog” finish, which we would say is more yeasty and rich rather than “wet.” Interestingly, the only other part of the world where Chenin Blanc is grown in any abundance is in South Africa.
Vouvray is not meant to age, and should be consumed young. In fact, they probably reach their peak within 3 years after bottling, and may begin to lose some of their distinctiveness after time.
The Snooth.com virtual wine tasting featured four wines, two Brut’s and two still sec wines. Sec literally means “dry,” and when used in conjunction with still wines means that the wine has little residual sugar (as opposed to the use of the word with sparkling wines where it indicates a sweeter bottling).
The wines that were tasted were: Sylvain Gaudron Vouvray Brut, Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Sec Cuvee Silex 2012, Domaine du Margalleau Vouvray Sec 2011, and Champalou Petillant Brut NV. Of these the Vhampalou Petillant, at $24 a bottle was the most expensive, though we did not taste this particular wine.
Snooth.com provided us with two wines to sample during the virtual tasting, the Sylvain Gaudron Vouvray Brut and Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Sec Cuvee Silex 2012, both of which were excellent examples of Vouvray and of Chenin Blanc.
The first wine in the tasting was the Sylvain Gaudron. The sparkling wine was a light gold in color with a rapid mouse with very small bubbles. The nose was yeasty with some vanilla and white peach.
short video: Gregory and Christy discuss the sparkling wine, Sylvain Gaudron Vouvray Brut
Like most wines of Vouvray, the palette was dominated by minerality, with some saltiness and a bit of lime pith on the mid palate. The wine finished light and we would say almost buttery, though Ms. Canterbury was particular is stating that the finish was the kind of wet dog taste that one expects from Vouvray. Priced at just $16 a bottle in New York, this wine is an excellent celebratory wine, a good gift wine, and is an excellent food wine.
During the tasting, some of the participants commented that they were serving the brut with various types of seafood including scallops and oysters, and the high levels of minerality in all of the wines sampled make them excellent for pairing with seafoods, spicy foods, and especially strong cheeses like blue cheese. Ms. Canterbury recommended Japanese sea urchin (or uni) as the perfect pairing choice.
short video: Christy and Gregory talk about the Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Sec Cuvee Silex 2012
The other wine that we tasted was Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Sec Cuvee Silex 2012. This wine which was price in New York at just $21 per bottle, was descrived as the crème de la crème of vouvret. It gets its name, Silex, from the silica in the soil and is for those who are interested, an organic wine.
The Silex was a light golden color with a very light nose featuring golden raisins, vanillas and as with the brut some white peach. The palate was interesting beginning with a very sugary sweetness (like simple sugar) up from then quickly bringing in the minerality and saltiness that one expects from vouvray. There were white fruits and some asian pear on the mid-palate, and also some distinctive cantaloupe, with the fine finishing with some saltiness and even a bit of rubber (not bad rubber but rainy tires) at the end. This really was a wine that brought out GDP’s idea of layers and layers with a lot of different textures and tastes competing for space.
We didn’t have an opportunity to taste the other wines, but the great thing about a Snooth.com virtual wine tasting is the ability to interact with the experts, and with other tasters, and both of the other offerings received rave reviews, particularly the Champalou Petillant Brut NV. Overall, based on the discussion and the wines that we sampled, it is hard to disagree with Ms. Canterbury’s statement that Vouvray is a true example of a region producing world class wines at amazing price points. Were French producers better marketers, and rather than putting complex statements and pictures of houses on their labels, to provide consumers with information about varietals, and the character of their wines, one would probably see these wines beginning to dominate over more expensive Chardonnay’s. But for now, Vouvray is a kind of secret place producing amazing wines that those of us in the know – like Snooth.com followers and Advice Sister’s readers can enjoy and share.
Virtual wine tastings, like those offered by Snooth.com provide an excellent opportunity to try different regions and wine types, and they make a great occasion to have a few friends over to share dinner, wine, conversation and their thoughts. Why not join us and try one for yourself as they’re really a lot of fun! If you decide you join in on the next Snooth.com virtual wine tasting, we are logged in as “advicesisterA” and would love to chat with you! If you are signed in to Snooth.com you can view the rest of the Virtual Tasting video were able to experience during the Vouvray Presents event (we’ve included just two portions of the video here, based on the two wines we tasted personally).. You can also see our comments when we’re participating on Twitter @advicesisters. or on Facebook
This report was written by wine enthusiast John Dunham for the Advice Sisters