- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Foreau, Vouvray Brut, NV, $25.

The regions of Anjou and Touraine in France’s Loire Valley produce millions of bottles of sparkling wine each year. Most of them taste simple and one-dimensional. The culprit seems to be the primary grape used there, chenin blanc, a variety whose aggressive character often renders making a subtle, nuanced sparkling wine difficult. Especially when coming from large cooperatives, Loire bubbly is rarely an exciting buy.

The Loire Valley, however, is home to many small, family-owned estates, some of which make intriguing, occasionally outstanding sparkling wines. Of these, Philippe Foreau in Vouvray stands out. His bubbly, fashioned from 100 percent chenin blanc and made traditionally, with the second fermentation in the bottle, exhibits clean, crisp, apple-scented fruit flavor along with a hint of toast and smoked nuts, and so it seems simultaneously rich and delicate. In terms of sheer quality, it gives many Champagnes a run for their money.

Foreau’s Vouvray Brut is especially exciting because it pairs wonderfully with a wide range of foods. Here chenin blanc can take the credit, for while this dry bubbly is just as elegant as most non-vintage Champagnes, it’s also deeper and richer, giving it more versatility at the table. Wine lovers looking for something different and delicious definitely should try it. (Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant.)

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