Eric Morgat Savennières L'Enclos 2005
I seem to have fallen into an ad hoc and certainly unplanned exploration of Savennières in the past few weeks, what with Baumard's Clos du Papillon as my Weekend Wine two weeks ago, and my newly expanded profile for Nicolas Joly after tasting his 2007s earlier this year. This week's wine does nothing to break the trend as it is another Savennières, this time from Eric Morgat.
Eric Morgat does not have a long history in the Savennières appellation, although he does come from a long line of vignerons. His forebears worked in the Coteaux du Layon appellation, his grandfather having acquired Château de Breuil in 1959. It would have been only natural for Eric to follow in the family footsteps at Breuil, but instead he moved north, crossing the river, settling in the appellation of Savennières. He started off with a small property near that of Domaine aux Moines, marketing the wines under the label of Domaine de la Monnaie. Since then he has both expanded, purchasing and renting new plots of vines in the appellation, including half a hectare in the cru Roches-aux-Moines, and also relocated, having been forced from his home when the owner sold it. He has found a new base near the southern end of the appellation on the road out to La Possonière, at the Clos de Ferrand. Reputedly one of the best sites of the appellation, this five hectare clos has lain unplanted for several decades, as the previous owner grubbed up the vines, built a house in the centre of the plot and used the surrounding land as pasture for cattle. Morgat plans to replant, in keeping with my thoughts two weeks ago about the reinvigoration of the appellation. I find the prospect of tasting the wine very exciting, but I know I will have a long wait before this plan comes to fruition.
Having tasted two vintages of Eric Morgat's Savennières L'Enclos it seems to me that here we have a young, up-and-coming name for the appellation who is well worth following, and who certainly deserves investigation and a profile on this site. In the meantime, the potted history above will have to do, accompanied by my opinion on the 2005 vintage below. This was a favourable vintage for many Loire appellations; Savennières was no exception, and Morgat harvested good quality fruit in a single burst of picking over four days, with a more-than-modest yield of 25 hl/ha. The fruit was pressed and then fermented naturally in oak, finishing malolactic the following spring before being racked into barrel where it remained for about eight months before bottling.
Before getting onto the wine, the bottles themselves are perhaps worthy of a quick mention, as they are particularly attractive. The capsule bears the motto solvitur in excelsis which I think translates as "the solution is in the highest", but I'm no Latin scholar. The labels bear an embossed print, a reproduction of a piece by Belgian artist Marcel Hasquin showing two intertwined figures seated in a wine glass. It is difficult enough making out the detail even with the bottle in your hand, so I hope you will forgive the rather poor quality image on the left. As for the wine itself, this has a moderately rich lemon-gold hue, and perhaps not the depth of colour I have seen in other Anjou Blanc and Savennières from this vintage - that's not necessarily a bad thing. The nose is not so expressive either, showing only a rather restrained, slightly plump but well defined layer of fruit, in the apple and pear spectrum. It's all rather subtle, compared to the 2004 tasted not that long ago which was very expressive. The palate though is just beautiful; not so much in terms of flavour, which is similarly restrained, but in terms of structure, a rich yet elegant weight, and a precise balance which is admirable in view of the wine's delicious substance. It is harmonious, slightly honeyed, broad and rather flattering, and yet it is certainly dry, with fine acidity carrying the wine across the palate, which remains really very fresh and lifted throughout as a result. This carries onto the finish, which is more minerally, but almost juicy in its vivaciousness. The length shows peppery, nettly substance underneath it all, and it goes on and on. This is very impressive, and I can't wait to see what it does with a year or two in the cellar. 18.5+/20 (2/3/09)