Charles Bove, Vouvray


Country & RegionFrance, Loire Valley
ProducerCharles Bove Company
Founded19th century

The firm of Charles Bove began life in the 19th century in Montrichard, in the Loire Valley. Its base of operations was, and is, an enormous rock quarry, abandoned after it had been quarried for building the Loire Chateaux (Chenonceau is just minutes away). This old quarry is composed of over 9 miles of underground cellars on three levels, with an all but steady temperature year-round of 53 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity inside is ideal for making and storing wines, and these days the firm keeps an average of two million bottles of sparkling wine undergoing aging at any given time. Below, at the lower entrance to the cellars, stands guard a sculpture know among the workers as The Gatekeeper.

Charles Bove Gatekeeper

The company specializes in sparkling wines, buying grape must or juice direct from surrounding domains. This must is vinified, blended, and bottled at Bove. The intrinsic qualities of the different wines are optimized by blending them together in one single vat. Reserve stocks allow them to offset variable weather conditions. At the end of the bottling operation, during which the wine is topped up with liqueur de tirage, the bottles, capped with metal temporary caps, are stored in the chalk cellars. They are “laid” on “lathes”, that is to say stored horizontally, with each layer separated from the previous one by a thin wooden lathe. Over a period of about 4 months, a second fermentation occurs.

Charles Bove cellar

Bove also maintains an extensive portfolio of still wines, the most interesting among which may well be the small range of varietals labeled under the Au Coeur des Terroirs label. These are delicious, well-priced introductions to the fresh and elegant wines the Loire does so well.

The Wines

Sparkling Wine
Based heavily on Chenin Blanc with a dollop of Chardonnay to add richnessComposed of a selection of juice from white-chalk soil vineyards in the Touraine appellation. Made according to traditional methods. Lies on lathes for more than 18 months during fermentation and maturation.
Touraine Sparkling Rosé70% Cabernet Franc, 30% GamayA méthode traditionelle sparkler. Rests on its lees for 18 months. Fresh, dry, and very pleasing.
Touraine Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon BlancBorn of Touraine's chalk soils. Raised in steel and bottled without fuss. Fresh, brisk, delicious fruit.

Chenin BlancFrom Vouvray, where the Abbey of Marmoutiers promoted the farming of Chenin in the 3rd century. Vouvray and its sibling Montlouis across the river are Touraine’s two great white wine appellations. This is a traditional style of Vouvray, bottled with a touch of residual sugar, which allows its incisive fruit to age long and gracefully.
IGP Pineau d'Aunis rosé Pineau d'AunisLabeled under the Au Coeur des Terroirs label. “Once tasted, never forgotten,” so wrote Loire authority Richard Kelley about the grape. Quoting him further is irresistible: “Pineau d’Aunis was once the most revered variety in the Loire and a favourite of King Henry III who exported vin clairet to the English court in the 13th Century, making it, presumably, the original ‘claret’. Charles VII of France offered the grape to the Duc de Bourgogne in 1425, presumably as a peace offering, some four years before the Dauphin was crowned, in the presence of Jeanne d’Arc, at Reims Cathedral.”

Despite the favor of those distant kings, the grape nearly went extinct as recently as the last quarter of the 20th century, but since then has been making a comeback. It's prized for peppery spice and elegance, giving, like Pinot Noir, full flavors without weight. In rosé, such as this one, its characteristic spice makes for a wine with delectable drive and fabulous drinkability.
IGP Cabernet Franc Cabernet FrancLabeled under the Au Coeur des Terroirs label. This is sourced from the Brissac zone of Anjou, a quintessentially central Loire Franc with ample fruit and fresh aromatics, at a price that will leave change in your pocket. Production averages 850 cases.