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It is uncommon, across the world of wine, for a producer to cultivate a single grape variety alone. Of the nearly 200 growers whose wines we import, a tiny fraction do this. Thierry Allemand in Cornas (Syrah). The Raveneaus and Lavantureux in Chablis (Chardonnay). The Lapierres in Morgon (Gamay).
Then there are the Champalous, who live and work in Vouvray, just downriver from the Château du Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci spent his final years. Of this small and impressive set of single-grape devotees, Catherine, Didier, and their daughter Céline draw the widest range of styles out of one material. From a dry sparkler to two of the most sublime late-harvest wines on this planet—and three styles in between—they have not only found, but mastered the diverse, exquisite possibilities of Chenin Blanc.
The best introduction to the Champalous’ Chenin magic is their refreshing, elegant, classic Vouvray AOC bottling, which is an equally good candidate for your porch apéritif, dinner table, and cellar. At table, it is stunningly versatile, having paired well recently with a beet and goat cheese salad, two different summery pastas, and an assortment of Chinese dishes. Aromas and flavors of pear, apple, flowers, honey, mouthwatering citrus, and minerals take turns coming in and out and back into focus as you drink this wine, giving it a mesmerizing complexity that is rare at this price. Best of all, it is a real joy to drink—a strong contender for your go-to summer white.
If you're looking for value, look where no one else is looking.
Inspiring Thirst, page 211