The Official Guide

Most Beautiful Villages in France book

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Grapes at Domaine Leduc-Frouin

Official Guide to the Most Beautiful Villages of France

The Official Guide

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Savennières and the versatile Chenin Blanc

Baumard Savennieres
Browsing through recent wine lists led me to recall a special purchase made in the late 1980s of 6 bottles of Savennières AC Coulée de Serrant 1987. As part of a gift to some wine-loving friends, we agreed with them that we would plan the drinking of these bottles over the years so that we would drink them together on important ocassions – the last being in about 2012. We were advised that this wine has extraordinary ageing potential, and wanted to see how the wine would evolve.The last one we tasted (bottle no.4) was about 4 years ago and the wine was decidely more intense and concentrated, yet still with a delightfully fresh edge – especially for a 15-year old wine!
Savennières (49 Maine-et-Loire, Pays de Loire) is one of the smallest wine appellations in Anjou. Typically the best vines here grow on steep, slate hillsides on the north bank of the Loire (see map below), originally farmed by monks as far back as the 12th Century – hence the name of one of the 2 most renowned domaine – Roche-aux-Moines (Monks; Rock). With less than 150 acres in production and barely 2 dozen producers, the production of Savennières is small – and because of its special micro-climate in bad years barely a drop will be produced. The yields allowed are low (just 75% of that allowed elsewhere in Anjou) primarily because historically Savennières was a dessert wine. Nowadays the wines are overwhelmingly dry, made from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes – a grape which is so successful in the Loire Valley for producing anything from the lushest sweet dessert wine through to superb sparkling dry whites and the Savennières, which are typically full-bodied, powerfully aromatic yet delicate and with extraordinary ageing potential.
Coulé-de-Serrant and Roche-aux-Moines are two “lieu dits” which may be added to the appellation name – similar to single vineyard appellations in Burgundy.
Leon Stolarski stocks a range of good Savennières from Domaine des Baumard including the Clos du Papillon 2003 (£14.50) – “Pale gold, with a floral and citrus nose. Steely dry, with great structure and complex flavours including pear, peach and lime peel. The length is huge. This is a brilliant wine, which is already lovely to drink, but has the potential to evolve wonderfully”
If you are visiting the region, one of our favourite Loire Valley producers is just a few miles away – Domaine Leduc-Frouin at Sousigné.
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