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France_Loire_Savennieres

Savennieres, I think will always remain one of the consummate "insider" wines of the wine world. It is a difficult wine to appreciate. Sometimes it can be terribly austere and take a very long time to come around but when it is on, it can be one of the most compelling, mineral-driven, white wines of the world. It is also dry. Very very dry. The leader of the appellation is also an outspoken wine fundamentalist when it comes to biodynamic viticulture. These are just some of the reasons why there is nothing quite like Savennieres in the world of wine. 

Located in the Anjou directly south of Angers, this quirky appellation makes less than 30,000 cases of wine a year which is absurdly small, especially considering the accolades the top wines get. In the 18th and 19th centuries Savennieres was famous all over the world for its sweet wines which is interesting as little to no sweet wines is made in the appellation today. 

The yield, as dictated by the AOC laws, is kept very low and that results in the high quality across the appellation. The soil, being a volcanic blend, also gives the wine its extraordinary minerality. When young, the wines have a honeyed rich quality while at the same time being screechingly acidic. The tartness goes away typically after 10 years and the wines become balanced and in many cases sublime. 

Savennieres also has two Grand Cru's that have their own appellations. One is the Savennieres-Coulee de Serrant, which is farmed exclusively by Nicolas Joly, the megalomaniacal leader of the appellation and leader of the world vinous biodynamic movement. The other is the Savennieres-La Roche-aux-Moines. There are many producers for this Grand Cru with the most well-known being Chateau de Chamboreau with Nicolas Joly also making a nominal amount. At their finest, these wines can compete on the world stage but Savennieres has to deal with frost and sometimes the Grand Cru wines from these two sites are not so grand. 

Savennieres can be an excellent value with such estates as d'Epire but it can get pricy when dealing with Joly, but otherwise Savennieres typically can be had for $20-$50 a bottle with Nicolas Joly's Coulee de Serrant being the most expensive wine in the appellation at around $75-$100 a bottle, depending on vintage. Typically these wines taste like honeyed almonds with huge acidity in their youth but can age 20-30 years and turn in to haunting, complex wines with many secondary and tertiary notes.

Notable Recent Vintages - 2007, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 1999, 1996

Top Producers (in no particular order) include:
  • Nicolas Joly
  • Domaine des Baumard (Not my first choice, but the most widely distributed)
  • Domaine du Closel
  • Chateau d'Epire
  • Damien Laureau
  • Jo Pithon (riper style)
  • Domaine Roche Aux Moines
  • Chateau de Chamboreau
  • Pierre-Bise
  • Pierre-Yves Tijou
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