Domaine des Baumard Savennières Clos du Papillon 1999
This week sees the publication of the notes from my annual Ten Years On tasting, a regular feature on Winedoctor since its inception back in 2000. Naturally the vintage in question is 1999, and it has turned out to be the largest ten-year-tasting ever, with over thirty wines from a broad selection of mainly French regions, with occasional representation from Germany and Italy (so not necessarily the broadest!). There were some excellent wines included in the line up.
As seems customary I have selected one of my favourite wines from my tasting as wine of the week, and although it was not the wine I scored highest (there was a fabulous Chianti Classico and a stupendous Côte-Rôtie which each took an extra half-point, and a number of other wines that drew equal), it was certainly one of the best and one of the most thought-provoking bottles in the tasting. This may reflect to a degree uncertain expectations, as I had no recall of such a wonderful style from previous tastings of this wine.
There are a number of obvious topics for discussion with this wine, most obviously the appellation of Savennières, Domaine des Baumard itself and of course the vineyard - the Clos du Papillon - and of course the wine itself! Many of these points I have already covered in some detail, however, earlier in the year, when the seemingly much younger 2002 vintage was my Weekend Wine. I write 'seemingly' because although only three years separates them, the 1999 has now entered a good place and is certainly ready to drink, with previously displayed potential (previously tasted twice, four and five years ago) now coming to fruition. The 2002 vintage, meanwhile, was a mouthful of harsh immaturity; full of bitter grip, ash and minerals, it was a wine that clearly needed time to soften and integrate.
That is exactly what has happened with the 1999, although it was never as reticent and withdrawn as the 2002. I see that my score has crept up by half a point each time, from my first tasting at the domaine in May 2004 (17+/20) and then to my next tasting just over a year later in July 2005 (17.5+/20), in a Loire extravaganza tasting, reflecting the increasingly seductive qualities and harmony that comes with encroaching maturity.
So, this time, no talk of the vineyard or domaine, check out my 2002 write-up and Baumard profile for that. I could speculate on how the Savennières growers will respond to the proposal by the INAO to elevate Quarts de Chaume to grand cru status, as discussed in my feature on Pierre-Bise Quarts de Chaume 2001 last week, but I think we can only wait to see what happens there. Instead, I will simply let this week's wine speak for itself, in anticipation of more notes from the 1999 vintage later this week. The 1999 Clos du Papillon Savennières from Domaine des Baumard has a rich, lemon-gold hue in the glass, a fine sight which precedes an intense and fascinating nose, rich in aromas of honey, pastry, sweet baklawa, sponge cake and pistachio. It sounds rich and complex, as indeed it is, but it also has a freshness, a bright edge to the golden fruits that emerge from the glass. A fabulous palate, with all the delightful twists and turns of a finely botrytised wine but without the sweetness follows on; this has depth, great vivacity, talcy substance and a powerful punch through the finish, where it shows notes of ginger and liquorice. A wonderful wine for drinking now, I think although this may yet improve I might find it difficult keeping my hands off my other bottles. Once again, my score creeps up a little more. What a fabulous domaine. 18+/20 (21/12/09)