Nicolas Joly, 2011 Update

Each time I think I have come to the end of this year’s exploration of Savennières, more tasting notes come to light. The latest to be uncovered are from Nicolas Joly, and as I have found in other recent vintages it is another trio of successes for this domaine. I have to confess I do feel a little uncomfortable writing those words, as with a reputation for meticulously attentive biodynamic viticulture but disinterested winemaking, with no temperature control, a committed ultra-low-sulphur regimen and a track record of bottle variation and oxidation, the fact that the wines seem full of potential now doesn’t mean that they will still be shining in ten years time. My own experience of the wines in maturity, admittedly limited (I have tasted many more embryonic than geriatric examples), has given me more hits than misses though, so I think it is probably appropriate to report on the wines as I see them now, without the need for any of the obvious caveats about aging these wines beyond those I have already made.

Nicolas Joly & Clos de la Coulée de Serrant

Why such accusations (which come from many quarters) of disinterest you might ask? It has often been said that Joly is more interested in biodynamics and its application to viticulture, than the actual wine that results. Perhaps this reflects Joly’s obsession with more pressing, global concerns, as detailed by Margaret Rand in her recent Decanter profile (July 2011, pp. 52-55, and certainly worth a read), in which Joly is laid bare for all to see. There is little discussion regarding wine – Margaret notes that she had been at the domaine over two hours before the words Chenin Blanc are heard – but plenty of detail from Joly on the forces and frequencies that influence our lives. He recounts his concerns about the earthquake-creating technology possessed by both Russian and American governments (hence the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami), and his protective copper- and silver-lined sleeping bag which shields him from the adverse “frequencies and wavelengths” when staying in hotels. With such knowledge and understanding of the terrible forces all around us weighing down on Joly’s shoulders there should be little wonder from us if the wines might not receive all the meticulous care and attention that they surely deserve.

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