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VOL. 126 | NO. 222 | Monday, November 14, 2011



Give Thanks For Champalou Vouvray 2009

By FREDRIC KOEPPEL

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I suspect that Americans don’t know much about the wines of Vouvray, except perhaps that they’re vaguely sweet white wines. I also suspect that Americans don’t know much about the grapes they’re made from, which happen to be chenin blanc. So, in the brief space allotted to me here – Education Alert! – I’ll fill in some background.

Vouvray lies smack in the middle of France’s vast Loire Valley region, in the district called Touraine, from the city of Tours. Chenin blanc, distinguished by high acidity, is the primary white grape of the central Loire, and in Vouvray it can (and cannot) reach its apotheosis; there’s a lot of mediocre Vouvray on retail shelves, but fortunately there’s sublimity to be found, certainly in the dry wines but especially in the region’s great, long-lived dessert wines. One of the problems is that Vouvray produced by large commercial houses tends to be simple, if not vapid, and industriously sweet.

To the rescue comes the Vouvray 2009 from Champalou, an excellent, small, family-operated producer. The color is medium pale golden-straw yellow, while the bouquet offers beguiling scents of hay, thyme, orange zest and lime peel and a rather astringent aura of limestone and some shy, tiny white flower. Get ready for a hit in the mouth, though, because here the wine is bone-dry, steely, awesomely vibrant and elegantly arrayed with flavors of spicy baked lemons and pears; the lovely texture is almost talc-like in softness, yet it’s energized by scintillating acidity and minerality.

If you’re a Thanksgiving dinner white wine drinker, the Champalou Vouvray 2009 would be a great choice.

FOR YOUR VERY OWN BOTTLE

Buster’s Wine & Liquors
191 S. Highland St., $20
GREAT WINES & SPIRITS
6050 Poplar Ave., $20
Kirby wines & liquors
2865 Kirby Parkway, $20

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