From: Vouvray, Loire, France
Varietal: Chenin Blanc
Tasting Notes: The Champalou family—Catherine, Didier, and their daughter, Céline—are Chenin Blanc specialists: from the vineyards around their home in the heart of the Vouvray appellation, they make wines in every style from the noble Pineau de la Loire, as the grape is also known. Their Vouvray pétillant is crafted in the méthode traditionelle: the secondary fermentation takes place in bottle, and then the wine is aged extensively on its lees—in this case, two years—before being disgorged and recorked. From clay and limestone vineyards, they are able to obtain remarkable complexity in their Brut, while the texture shows both a creamy richness and an austere minerality. For this reason, this wine makes a great bargain alternative to Champagne, but it is important not to overlook the fact that it comes from a terroir and grape variety of its own. The Champalous like to serve it at the end of a meal, but this dry sparkler works well from the apéritif all the way through dessert. —Anthony Lynch
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