Domaine aux Moines
Savennières is not a huge appellation, the area available for viticulture as defined by appellation regulations being in the order of 300 hectares, although much less than this is currently planted to vines. Within this relatively small appellation there are two highly-prized crus, the Roches-aux-Moines and the Clos de la Coulée de Serrant. These crus lie at the heart of the appellation, the vines cascading down slopes of schist within the little valleys (or coulées as they are known) that run down to the Loire. The vines are bathed daily in the cool Ligérian light, the wines they produce some of the most remarkable in the entire Loire Valley.
The larger of these two crus is Roches-aux-Moines, which accounts for perhaps 33 of those 300 hectares. This is smaller than many individual grand cru classé estates in Bordeaux, and yet within these 33 hectares – not all of which are planted up – there are maybe a dozen vignerons each tending their own plot of vines, some of which are miniscule. But not all, as one or two holdings within this highly prized cru are quite large. The largest belongs to the aptly named Domaine aux Moines, which is home to mother-and-daughter team Monique and Tessa Laroche.
With its central position on the Roches-aux-Moines, and its expansive vineyard, the story of Domaine aux Moines is, in essence, the story of the Roches-aux-Moines. Indeed, the very first time I met proprietor Tessa Laroche we talked about the history of her domaine, and she immediately identified the planting of the Roches-aux-Moines and the Clos de la Coulée de Serrant during the 12th century as the moment of the domaine’s genesis. These are events I have already explored in detail in my profiles of Nicolas Joly, owner of the Château de la Roches aux Moines and the Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, and Domaine du Closel, home to Evelyne de Jessey-Pontbriand. Nevertheless, it seems appropriate to re-examine them here, especially as this domaine so assuredly dominates the Roches-aux-Moines vineyards. If, however, you are already familiar with this story, or if you would rather jump forward to read of Monique and Tessa Laroche, and the wines being made here today, please skip forward to the bottom of the next page of this profile.