Champalou, Les Fondraux, Vouvray, Chenin Blanc, 2015


Wine & Spirits 92pts: Mature vines (45 years old) provide the concentrated, ripe fruit that Catherine and Didier Champalou ferment in 500-liter barrels, where the wine also ages on its lees for 11 months. This 2015 has a youthful, grapey freshness, feeling cool and brisk. There’s a candied-orange note to the fruit, a sweetness from the alcohol that integrates into the firm structure, so it finishes savory. Ripe and healthy, this will age with grace.

SKU: 20049 Categories: , , ,


Vouvray “La Cuvée des Fondraux” :

Like the Vouvray, harvest happens early in the morning for the Fondraux and the grapes are immediately pressed. The juice in then transferred into 500-L wooden barrels for a slow fermentation. The finished wine has 16 g/L of residual sugar. Each vintage, the balance and residual sugar is determined by tasting. When the right balance is achieved, the wine is chilled to stop fermentation. The wine is aged in the same vessel on its lees for eleven months before bottling.

Catherine and Didier Champalou both came from vigneron families, yet their mutual sense of independence prompted the couple to brave it on their own right after completing viticultural school in Saumur. Since starting the domaine in 1983, they have not only grown their business, but their label is one of the most highly-acclaimed in the appellation. Vouvray is home to the noble Chenin Blanc, more commonly known as Pineau de la Loire in their part of the world. As widespread as Pineau is, both soil and climate play key roles in the diversity of its incarnations, and a Chenin from California gives one no hint of what the grape is capable of in the right soil.

Farther inland along the Loire, in the region of the Touraine, Vouvray enjoys a warm, continental climate during the summers. Slowly dropping temperatures in autumn make for a long ripening season. Microclimates with high humidity can also bring about the beloved noble rot. The gravel and chalk in the vineyards also play a role absorbing the sun’s rays, lending increased ripeness to this part of the Touraine. The Pineau of Vouvray can be pétillant (sparkling), sec (dry and crisp), demi-sec (off-dry) or in a botrytized state called moelleux. Catherine and Didier make all four styles.

The Champalou family farms twenty-one hectares of vineyards on clay, limestone, and siliceous soils. They embrace sustainable farming while also integrating the use of the lunar calendar more traditionally associated with organic viticulture. The soils in their vineyards are rich, deep, and aerated though regular plowing. Cover crops are planted in between vineyard rows to help with excess water absorption and to encourage microbiotic activity in the soil. The Champalou house style produces wines of great elegance and tenderness, highly aromatic with impeccable balance. No one comes close to copying their distinct style.


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