The prosperous university city of Tours, which straddles the confluence of the rivers Loire and Cher, is where the best French is alleged to be spoken. What isn't disputed is the quality of the local wine which hails from vineyards just to the east of the city, in Vouvray on the northern bank of the Loire and Montlouis on the southern side. The only permitted grape variety in both appellations is Chenin Blanc which is deployed to make dry, off-dry, sweet, still and sparkling wines, giving more variety than one might initially suppose. Vouvray (with circa 2000 hectares under vine) is much bigger and better known than Montlouis (around 400 hectares) but it cannot stake any qualitative claim as the chalky-limestone soils and inland Continental climate are identical in both locations.
Across the water in Vouvray the Auberts are fastidious in their quality control. Their Brut bottling has engendered a large and loyal following. Their Vouvray Sec is a classic of the appellation, bursting with bright orchard fruit flavours underscored by racy mineral undertones. Its Demi-Sec stable-mate is just off-dry with a lovely fresh acidity to offset the local rillons and rillettes at elevenses. The Vouvray Moelleux, from hand-picked, late-harvested, botrytised grapes, is a rich, honeyed nectar that comes into its own with fruit-based desserts.
The interloper here, a humble Vin Mousseux de Qualité, as no rosé is permitted in the appellation, is the pretty, pink, sparkling cuvée 'Les Tonnelles'. Made from a hand-riddled blend of 90% Gamay and 10% Gros Lot, it is brimming with ripe, raspberry fruit and is perfect for picnics and parties.