In my explorations of Savennières I have covered, in considerable detail, the history of the appellation, beginning from the time the monks planted the first vines on the Roches-aux-Moines some time around the 12th century, through to current times. As the vineyard expanded during the last few centuries many of the grandes dames of the appellation appeared, including Château d’Epiré, Château des Vaults, Château de Varennes, Domaine aux Moines, Château de la Roches aux Moines and Château de Chamboureau. Five decades ago, these domaines dominated the appellation, defining what it was for a wine to be Savennières. More often than not, those wines were sweet.
In more recent times, however, Savennières has seen an influx of new blood. Some are well-established vignerons working the various terroirs of Anjou, who have stepped up to add a parcel of vines in this appellation to their portfolio. These include, among others, Château Pierre-Bise, Domaine de la Bergerie, Domaine Ogereau, Domaine des Baumard of course, and Jo Pithon too. They each have their own story to tell, some more convoluted and complex than others. But then there came a third group, the young guns of Savennières. These characters came, in some cases, from winemaking families, but wanted to strike out on their own, while others were somewhat less experienced. Eric Morgat was one. Damien Laureau was another. And it is certainly noteworthy that he is a young gun, relatively new to wine and to Savennières compared to all these much grander names, because today his is one of the top names in the appellation. In fact, I would place him at the top.
Having been born into a Versailles family concerned with farming but not viticulture, Damien Laureau left home bound for Angers in the mid-1990s, in order to take up some work with his uncle Jean-Louis Laureau. Jean-Louis was a pear farmer who also owned a small vineyard, and the together the two established a small domaine located not in Savennières but on the outskirts of Anjou, on the south side of the Loire. This they christened Clos Frémur. The wines were bottled under the Anjou appellation, and these early experiences proved to be the spark that ignited Damien’s viticultural ambitions.