Two estates vie for the position of top producer in Vouvray in the Loire Valley – Domaine Huet and Foreau’s Clos Naudin. But close on their heels is Bernard Fouquet of Domaine des Aubuisières, with his 30 hectares of vines in some of the appellation’s very best sites.
Overall Vouvray’s 2,200 hectares of vineyard is made up of around 50% clay limestone and 50% silty clay and flint. Bernard’s own vineyards reflect this mix, dedicated to Chenin Blanc, the only variety permitted in Vouvray. His wines range in style from sparkling to sec, sec tendre (just off dry), demi-sec, moelleux (sweet) and liquoreux (intensely sweet).
The wines are all of a really high standard and winemaking in general follows the classic Vouvray model of fermentation in tank, with no malo, and a period of lees ageing before bottling in the Spring. These wines will do most of their ageing in bottle.
Consistency and precision were the impressions that I was left with after tasting Bernard’s wines. The highlight was his Cuvée Alexandre 2009, a barrel fermented and aged liquoreux made from grapes picked in two “tries” – one to collect raisined grapes, the second for botrytized grapes. It wears its 170g/l of residual sugar well, partly thanks to the 8g/l total acidity (tartaric), but also due to the complex range of aromas and flavours achieved. It was dubbed a “perfect wine”, the kind that blossoms in the glass and lingers long in the memory.
I know of no other grape variety which can successfully be moulded into such a wide range of styles, many of which also age wonderfully. This was beautifully and elegantly illustrated by Bernard Fouquet’s wines.
80% of Bernard Fouquet’s wines are exported and a selection is available in the UK at Majestic and via Bancroft wines.