We rent bikes in Tours and head up the Loire River, thirsty for wine.
The Loire river runs like a wrinkly tie below Paris to the Atlantic. The Vouvray AOC is a mere, million case pin-prick of 5,000 vinous acres. It sits next door to Tours.
The chenin blanc grape covers nearly all of Vouvray. But before trying wine, we head to the source:
Well, sort of. Finally between the vines, we try the grapes:
After over an hour of biking, we find our first winery:
We stumble into Brédif’s tasting room. Dripping slightly with sweat, we find the bar. A young woman emerges, smirking below her spectacles.
She starts us on the worryingly English-sounding “Classic” Chenin Blanc from 2011:
It looks a pale lemony, green. The aromas tempt our thirst with young, moderately intense lemon, salt, and green melon.
Our parched palates absorb a dry, racing, citrus-fest of acidity, balanced by a fairly rich and viscous medium alcohol (13%) and medium body.
Ripe but moderate flavors of melon and honey coat our palates. The medium plus length steps this up to a very good quality wine (4 of 5). Simple but pure Chenin Blanc.
With broken, patient English, Brédif’s be-speckled taster eases us to their 2009 Reserve Privée:
Its colors look more yellow than green, but just as pale as 2011’s Classic.
Aromas smell equally young and moderate but show odder flavors of mint, lemon, beeswax, and clay.
A shockingly dry, minimal, 2 grams-per-liter of sugar let loaded acidity shine. A tick more alcohol (13.5%) adds to a pleasantly plump, medium body.
Pure flavors of lemon, and golden pear dominate, finished in stages by beeswax, clay, and mineral that last very long. 2009’s Reserve Privée is complex and very good (4 of 5). Three years have served it well.
Our kind pourer catches our debate on minerality and soon, older bottles emerge:
Brédif’s 2005 “Nectar” lives up to its name:
Thick, sugary legs descend into a glass glowing with gold. Pronounced yet still developing aromas exude honey and wet, handmade paper. High sugar and acidity factor each other out. The viscous texture is surprisingly not heavy nor cloying. Flavors of prickly grapefruit and asian fruits (kiwi), and apricot, finish with a lengthy, savory note. Again, very good quality (4 of 5): a dessert wine for summer or thai food.
By now, our guide trusts our French, chuckles at my note-taking, and she sneaks out a final iteration of Chenin Blanc: the 1988 Grande Année:
Now, rumors claim Chenin Blanc has the acidity to age for a century. Brédif’s rotunda of wines dating to 1900 attest to this. But how will this 24 year old white hold up?
The clear, medium gold color shows its age. Time has also allowed for aromas of honey, smoke, and asparagus to reach pronounced heights of intensity.
Unlike Brédif’s newer, drier wines, a touch more sugar balances a still lively acidity. Meanwhile, alcohol and body remain medium and true to the house style.
It is on the palate, where huge, rich fruit takes us. Turkish delight, beeswax, golden pear, and impossibly pure honey all mount one of the longest lengths our palates could imagine.
The ’88 is outstanding wine (5 of 5).
Maybe it is the posh tasting room. Maybe it is the wine. Maybe it is our dehydration. But Marc Brédif‘s many wines, mostly born from Chenin Blanc, show decades of dedicated, textbook, work in Vouvray that can stand the test of time. Sure, the Brédif family may have sold operations in the 1980s. But the brand still makes great wine.
Check back next Monday for Part 2 of our Vouvray adventure.
The Wine Dome’s Review of Brédif’s 1988
- Marc Brédif Vouvray (alohavino.com)
- A Quick Vineyard Experience – Lancaster Wines, Swan Valley (lessincognito.wordpress.com)
- Wine and Food Pairings & Food and Wine Pairings (potterybarn.com)
- Secret Wine Club – The Loire Valley (winelandia.com)
- Rooting for Chenin (dmwineline.wordpress.com)
5 of 5! And the perfect bike ride thru Loire Valley.
Bredif 88 was an amazing wine. It proves whites can be transcendent. The bike ride was nearly perfect, if only we could stop falling over.
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