“As long as you're using Chenin Blanc, anything is possible.” --Francois Pinon
I found that quote while scouring French and English websites, trying to find out if Damien Pinon is related to well-known Vouvray producer Francois Pinon (spoiler alert: probably only distantly). Francois goes on to say, in his interview with Jules Dressner, that Vouvray is the “only appellation in France where you can produce the wine you want on any given parcel. Sparkling, still, sec, demi-sec, dessert wines: the choice is the vigneron's.” That’s part of the magic when you see Vouvray on a wine list. Is it still? Is it sparkling? How much residual sugar does it have? Does it see oak? How long has it been aged? It smells like a classic aromatic white, flowers and fruit, but the first sip is always unpredictable.
Chenin Blanc as a varietal is known for its puckering acidity and inherent sweetness, and it is most famously grown in South Africa and the Loire Valley in France. Vouvray is an appellation d’origine controllee (AOC), aka a “protected designation of origin,” in the Loire. It’s the largest white wine appellation in the wider Touraine region, on the northern banks of the Loire, and it almost exclusively grows Chenin Blanc. Hence, if you see the word “Vouvray,” you should think “Chenin Blanc.”
On to the Vouvray of the Day®! Damien and Michel Pinon are 3rd generation winemakers that operate a 22-hectare estate in the commune of Vernou-sur-Brenne. The vines grow in calcareous clay and tuffeau limestone, and the wine is vinified and preserved in cellars dug into the tuffeau. Damien Pinon’s 2017 “Tuffo” Vouvray is a sec (dry) wine that smells like ripe pears, bruised bodega persimmons, and heady calla lilies. Medium-bodied and perfumey, it coats your mouth, with a pop of minerality and acid to balance out its fruit. I think the wine could stand up to more rich foods than the traditional chicken or fish, so go crazy. Think a cheese plate with charcuterie and preserves! If you’re just dipping your toe into the waters of Vouvray, this is the perfect introduction.