Philippe Foreau - Domaine du Clos Naudin
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Country of Origin: France
Location: Vouvray, Loire
People: Philippe Foreau, Owner & Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Organic
Philippe Foreau is the third generation of the Foreau family to produce Vouvray from this fabled domaine, which his grandfather purchased in 1923. Philippe assumed the direction of the domaine in 1983 upon the retirement of his father, André. Today, the domaine consists of 11.5 hectares planted to Chenin Blanc.
The vineyards of the Domaine du Clos Naudin are located in the northeast corner of Vouvray, sited mid-hill with 100% south/southeast/southwest exposures. The principal vineyards are known as Les Perruches and Les Ruettes. The average age of the vines is approximately 45 years. Yields over the past 10 years have averaged 33 hectoliters per hectare. The vineyards are tended pursuant to organic methods - without the use of herbicides and worked with organic fertilizers.
Harvest is done manually with numerous passes through the vineyards to select ripe grapes bunch by bunch. Crush is done with a pneumatic press and fermentation occurs in barrels 300 liters in size. The barrels are of varying age with a renewal of about 5% annually. Malolactic fermentation never occurs. The wines ferment slowly in the cave over a two-month period at about 16 degrees Celsius. The wines are racked twice before bottling, which occurs for the still wines normally in mid-May of the year following harvest. Philippe Foreau does not chapitalize his wines. Demi-sec and moelleux cuvées are only made in years when the grapes naturally reach a high degree of ripeness. The sparkling wines remain on the lees for at least 48 months to achieve maximum richness and complexity; disgorging occurs once each quarter. In exceptional vintages, Philippe Foreau produces a “reserve” bottling of sparkling Vouvray that carries the vintage year on the label.
Philippe Foreau's wines age remarkably well. Each wine exhibits extraordinary flavors and aromas of fruit, floral and earth elements.
From Wine Advocate 12/2014
"Compared with the wines from the famous Domaine Huet property, Foreau's Vouvrays are less round and rich but very pure, rather lean, vital, straightforward and focused on the palate, with a persistent finish that is always brillant and full of mineral tension. An apricot fruit character is another distinctive mark of Foreau's wines, which by the way are never chaptalized or de-acidified. Philippe Foreau: 'I am striving for wines which are pure, typical in their aromas, show finesse, elegance, balance and a persistent aftertaste. For me this is the tableau d'un grand grand vin.'"
From Vinous by Antonio Galloni 12/2014
"Philippe Foreau looks a bit like a high school philosophy teacher as he looks out at you over the top of his glasses. He also has one of the sharpest palates on the Loire. Not only is he well known as a prodigious wine taster, he also loves to eat, leaving a sizable a portion of his income at the tables of France’s finest restaurants. Otherwise, though, he keeps a low profile. There is no website and you are unlikely to see him at any fair. In his cellars, though, he is a formidable host. For every wine he pours, he has a clear idea of the course he would serve with it. My favorite of his observations, though, was that 'Savennières is better with the river, Vouvray with the ocean.' It was his grandfather Armand who established the estate, digging the cellar with pick ax, shovel and wheelbarrow. Philippe came back to work with his father André in 1980, but his first vintage on his own was 1983. His son now works with him as well, but was in the vineyards when I passed through town. That is actually where both spend most of their time. 'Only about 400 of the 2,300 hectares in Vouvray are well maintained,' he complains. 'How can those producers pretend to make good chenin blanc?' The estate has about 12 hectares of vines near Le Mont in two parcels, Les Perruches and Les Ruettes, planted on clay and flint soil, producing only about 30,000 bottles a year. Compared to their neighbors at Domaine Huet that is small, but they never wanted to expand. Interestingly, there is no Clos Naudin. Foreau’s grandfather merely took the name from a next-door neighbor. 'I should probably take it off the label,' he smiles, 'and merely call the estate Domaine Foreau.' Similarly, although he is not certified as organic, Foreau uses no weed killers, artificial fertilizers or insecticides, but does occasionally treat against mildew because of the pressure from grey rot. In some vintages as much as 40% of his production is sparkling wine. His still wines are all matured in old 300-liter barrels that you’ll find almost nowhere else in the region. As they were for the majority of his colleagues, the last two vintages 'have been difficult. Already in 2012, we harvested less than 30 hectoliters per hectare,' he explains. 'In 2013 it was only 17.' Although well known for his noble late-harvest moelleux, 2009 was the last great vintage for this style. In that year, though, it accounted for two-thirds of his total production. He was very kind to show me how gracefully these wines mature, ending the tasting with a 1945!"