Wine of the Week: Domaine Champalou, Vouvray 2020 | Loire, France

By Dirk Smits

Vouvray | February 21, 2022

The AOC Vouvray comes from the Touraine region located on the right bank of the Loire river in France. It is spread over eight municipalities between Amboise and Tours, and covers 5,280 acres of vineyards planted with Chenin Blanc, locally also called Pineau de la Loire.

Vouvray has always been associated with wines and gastronomy. It is said that, in the 4th century, Saint-Martin, Bishop of Tours, had vines planted for the benefit of the clergy and the sick. Later, in 1936, Vouvray was the first region of Touraine to be recognized by the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) as an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC).

It is a hilly landscape, drawn by plateaus and slopes whose tufa sub soils (tuffeau in French – a variety of limestone) are covered by a layer of deposits of flint clays, silt and Aeolian sands facilitating good drainage. The appellation’s general climate remains temperate oceanic with continental influence. Specific microclimates of each valley are reflected in the different wines Vouvray produces.

The wines vary in their type depending on the quality of the vintages. When the maturity of the grape is advanced, Vouvray will produce dry and semi-dry wines which are the true representatives of this appellation. In the best vintages, when the juices have a sufficiently high sugar level, remarkable sweet wines (moelleux) that can potentially keep very long will be produced. When the growing cycle is late or difficult to obtain good maturity of the grapes, the proportion of sparkling wines can reach two thirds of all wines produced that vintage.

Catherine and Didier Champalou both came from winemaking families, yet their mutual sense of independence prompted the couple to brave it on their own right after completing viticultural school in Saumur. Since starting the domaine in 1983, they have not only grown their business, but their label is one of the most highly-acclaimed in the appellation.

Origin: Loire, France
Varietals: 100% Chenin Blanc (Pineau de la Loire)
Sustainability: sustainable practices
Suggested retail price: $23.00
ABV: 12.5%

Harvest occurs early in the morning and the fruit is then immediately pressed. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. A low temperature is kept while the wine is raised on fine lees in tanks for eleven months and then is bottled in September.

The wine has a straw yellow color with an expressive bouquet of flower blossom, stone fruit, toasted almonds and apple tart. On the palate, it shows ripe tropical and stone fruit with a touch of lemon zest ending on refreshing acidity and minerals, both hallmarks of a good Vouvray.

Suggested food pairings: as an apéritif, seafood, grilled fish and white meats, vegetable tians and Japanese dishes.

> For more information, visit the Domaine Champalou official website.