Domaine du Closel (Château des Vaults)
The past couple of decades have seen a steady trickle of new vignerons arrive in Savennières. Some have stepped across from their homes on the left bank of the Loire to try their hand here, adding a few vines in this very special appellation to what is often already a broad portfolio featuring various wines from Anjou, Anjou-Villages, the Coteaux du Layon or its superior crus. Others have settled here, choosing to focus purely on Savennières, often starting out with next to nothing, just a few rows of rented vines here or there, rooted in these vineyards of schist and sand, and perhaps a very basic cave, similarly rented.
While both are vital to the modern story of Savennières – because the first could be Claude Papin or one of his peers, while the latter could quite easily be Damien Laureau, both top tier in the appellation – we must not overlook those domaines that preceded them. Many such estates are long established, with histories that may be traced back many centuries, past the Revolution into the Middle Ages. And although the families that own and run these properties today cannot always claim a similarly lengthy association with the vineyard, among this cohort of domaines there are still some noble and noteworthy dynasties inhabiting some rather grand châteaux. Their very existence hints at a history that is not always easy to come by in the Loire Valley, a region where even some very famous domaines have often grown out of nothing more than polycultural smallholdings, in many cases only during the last one hundred years.
These impressive châteaux with their ancient vineyards are the ‘old guard’ of Savennières, the grandes dames of the appellation. Knowing these domaines is essential for an understanding of the Savennières appellation. And in many cases the wines can be delicious (which helps make our quest to know these domaines rather easier!). Domaine du Closel, also known as Château des Vaults, is one essential name.