Good to catch up with Bernard Fouquet in Vouvray last week and have an update from him as to the state of play in the vineyards over there. He says it's been a tricky year so far with more treatments than normal to keep the mildew at bay. I asked how many times he has treated at which point he offered us a tasting from barrel of his Cuvée Marigny- an excellent tactic to dodge the question!
It's interesting to note that in years like this when weather conditions are against them the lutte raisonnée and organic growers are having to treat often to keep the vines healthy. Last year we were blessed with such a dry period that many growers only sprayed a couple of times throughout the entire growing season. 2012 could not be more different - some growers have sprayed 11 times this year and we've not even reached veraison yet (the point at which black skinned grape varieties start to change colour from green to pink to purple).
So, back to Bernard. His Cuvéé Marigny is a blend - one third that has been aged in 1 wine barrels, one third in 2 wine barrels and the remaining third in new barrels. We tasted the three different components which were remarkably different.
The wine in the 2 wine barrels (we use the expression 2 wine rather than 2 year old because it's possible to have more than one wine in a barrel in a year) had a lemon and lime citric quality. Round, full and rich on the palate and not austerely dry but with great length. The wine in the 1 wine barrels was more spicy on the nose with a tiny hint of tannin coming through on the palate. More mineral with grapefruity notes and shorter on the finish. The new barrel wine was full of tobacco, grapefruit and spice. A little tannin at the end, spicy and long. Bernard was explaining that the 1 and new barrel wines have typical Chenin acidity and they tend to change dramatically in July, coming together. The oak used is French, made from staves that have been dried in the open air for 36 months and are medium toasted before being made into barrels. The final wine will be blended later this month and allowed to settle for around a month in cuve before bottling.
A hive of activity on the day we were there, Bernard was in the process of disgorging his sparkling wine, a Vouvray Mousseux Brut Zero. He's not a fan of the freeezing process that is often used for disgorging so each bottle has to be fed into the line by hand. His Brut Zero comes from the 2007 vintage and is absolutely delicious.
We've been fans of Bernard's Vouvrays for a few years now. He mentioned that he has another parcel about 200m away from the winery called Le Bouchet and is going to try to make a 'real sec' this year if the weather conditions allow it. He's also intending to make another sec in cuve from a small parcel close to the Plan de Jean called Le Petit Clos for the 2013 vintage. This will be a true 'sec' made from very ripe grapes and with no malo - estimated production will be 5/6,000 bottles a year. We look forward to that.
Good news for those of you in the UK too. Majestic will be stocking his 'Cuvée les Peruches' from the autumn. It should be retailing for just under £9 a bottle.