Les Jardins Esméraldins
I lifted the glass to my nose, and breathed in the aromas, which were clean and pure, speaking quite clearly of Chenin Blanc, with its softer, gentler, more floral side showing best. Aromatically, this was certainly an enticing wine, and the only thing to do next was to take a sip. Happily, the wine didn’t disappoint in this department either, showing a gently honeyed and slightly pithy seam of fruit, an elegant core encased in a grippy structure. This was attractive, pure and harmonious, not showing any real minerality but still a pretty good example of a Saumur Blanc (actually, it was a Vin de France, but never mind).
Leaning in I asked the vigneron, he who had nurtured this wine to its current state, for some information. What vintage? What was the terroir? What’s its story?
“This is a 2005 Chenin Blanc”, he replied. “It has been in demi-muid since the vintage, without sulphites, and is due to be bottled in spring this year”. Bearing in mind this was February 2014, his words meant the wine had seen out a nine-year élevage in wood, without the addition of sulphur dioxide, and yet it still tasted as clean as a whistle. This was not something I had encountered before, and I was suddenly glad to have come to taste with Xavier Caillard, the vigneron in question. “I could have bottled it earlier”, he continued, “but it just wasn’t the right time for the wine”.
It seemed to me as if the wine had spoken to him, whispered in his ear perhaps, telling him when it was time for the next stage in its evolution. “Order the bottles, Xavier….. I am ready”. This was clearly a domaine I was going to have to get to know better.