Vouvray – How Old Can You Go?

(Mar. 11, 2015) — A 67-year old white wine? Can a white wine of that age still be drinkable? Usually that would be doubtful but there are exceptions, notably Sauternes, Riesling and … Chenin Blanc, especially the sweeter versions from the central Loire valley including the area around the village of Vouvray. Here the higher sweetness is provided by Botrytis, but is offset by high natural acidity, the fine balancing of which can lead to very long life and amazing complexity when made by the finest estates. How long? A few years ago, Decanter Magazine rated a 1947 Vouvray number six on the list of top 100 wines. Jancis Robinson, in the Oxford Companion to Wine, suggests they can last over 100 years. She rated our 147 Bourillon Dorléans as 19 points out of 20, the 1970 as 17 points of 20, and the 2003 as 16.5 points or very good.

We can judge for ourselves. For this unique tasting, we have a 1947, 1959, 1970, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, and 2003, all but one coming from the well regarded Bourillon Dorléans domaine, including newer ones under their Chateau Chevrier label (the 1997 is a “joker” – a Quarts de Chaume from the Chateau Bellerive estate from further west closer to Anjou – see if you can pick it out). With the exception of the 2003 Bourdonnerie “Demi-Sec”, the bulk of them are “Moelleux” which can be up to 4.5% residual sugar. We must bear in mind that total sweetness and apparent sweetness can differ because of the balancing acidity. I expect we will find that these are not heavy cloying wines.

Of course there can be bottle-to-bottle variability with older wines such as these. But it is worth noting that the 1959 and particularly the 1947 vintages are still widely and actively traded when available. Several people at the recent Winetasters’ dinner were most anxious to see how the older two have fared over the years.

We expect this to be an extremely interesting event and hope to see you there.

As always with our tastings, this event will be strictly non-smoking, and we request your cooperation in not wearing any scented after-shave or perfume. Using public transit is strongly encouraged.

Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 North York Memorial Community Hall
Time: 6:30 p.m. 5110 Yonge St. (under library)
Limit: 78 people North York Centre Subway
Members: $83 (incl. HST) Guests: $95 (incl. HST)

Cancellations accepted up to March 6, 2015. See the event form for cancellation contact details. No reservations by phone, please. No confirmations will be issued — you will be contacted only if we are sold out. First come basis. Non-members may attend at guest rates, but preference will be given to members.

Download the event form if you wish to mail in your reservation cheque.