Didier & Catherine ChampalouBy
Here is a note I received from Bruce Neyers & Kermit Lynch about one of our favorite wines, which I thought you might find interesting.
“Recently, I had a chance to talk to Kermit about Didier and Catherine Champalou. We visited them last month with my traveling group, and as many of you have already heard the 2013 vintage in Vouvray was a disaster. Domaine Champalou lost almost 70% of their 2013 crop to a combination of hail, coulure and rain, and Kermit was interested to hear how they were dealing with this enormous economic setback. They were fine, I told him, and indeed despite an economic disaster that seems almost biblical, they were upbeat, enthusiastic and welcoming. Strong people. Kermit thought about it, and sent me the following note, which he entitled ‘From the Pencil of Kermit Lynch’……..” Bruce Neyers
When the classic Vouvrays of René Loyau were no longer available, I went to Charles Joguet for new leads. (As recounted in Adventures on the Wine Route, I’d originally found Loyau thanks to Joguet.) We visited a bunch of good addresses and afterwards I narrowed it down to working with Domaine Foreau or Domaine Champalou.
I’ll never forget Foreau’s deep cave, funky as could be with a marvelous smoky smell that surely seasoned the aroma of his Vouvrays.
The Champalous, Didier and Catherine, were much younger than Foreau, and just launching their domaine. Their cave was pristine, and so were their wines.
I chose Champalou, but regretted not picking up Foreau as well. In those days, it seemed too much to try marketing two Vouvrays, because the appellation did not have much of a reputation back then—sweet and sterile describes the biggest proportion of them.
Didier and Catherine are modest and proud. They don’t seek the limelight, don’t seek riches. No, pride in their creations motivates them.
Their style is what the French call discret: reserved, restrained, the opposite of bombastic or blatant. The perfumes are there for the taking, but won’t give anyone a bloody nose. The bouquet evolves as the bottle grows emptier—it’s an aromatic voyage.
The other remarkable quality, almost unique in Vouvray, is the textural pleasure on the palate. No matter which bottling, one enjoys an elegant texture, which derives from the winemaker’s touch. Think of Lassalle, Meyer-Fonné, or Abbatucci, for example. All show the same sort of touch, the same luxurious textures.
I feel the wine market is turning its back on Vouvray as it did in the 1970’s, and for the same reasons—too much enologically correct mediocre plonk. Where is the winemaker, the touch? But we have a gem in the Champalou family, so in line with what we look for, so impeccable in terms of their work and their character……………..”
Yours for fine wine, Kermit Lynch