Damien Laureau, 2012 Update

If there is one appellation in the Loire that fascinates, it must surely be Savennières. This appellation has seen a dramatic transition in recent decades, shifting from a little-known Loire curiosity – the appellation stands apart from others in Anjou for so many reasons – to an international beacon of vinous individuality. It is of course the cradle of biodynamics, as nestled deep within the appellation is the Château de la Roche aux Moines, the property where Nicolas Joly first put his biodynamic beliefs into practise.

Admittedly all is not entirely rosy in this appellation; during a recent conversation with Simon Blanchard, who provides oenological consultation to Domaine FL on behalf of Stéphane Derenoncourt, Simon and I agreed that one significant problem for Savennières is the lack of an archetypal style.

Damien Laureau

There are at least four broad styles that wear the Savennières label; first comes the old-school and austere, wines that see only aged oak or perhaps none at all, and need a lengthy repose in the cellar before they are even remotely approachable. Second is the very pure and bright style, wines perhaps showing some varietal character and perhaps some attractive minerality. Third comes the more modern and oak-influenced (and here the wines range from those that display a harmonious and light oaky polish, to those with a robust, golden, honeyed, almost tannic character). Both of these latter styles can be more approachable in their youth. In fourth place comes the oxidative or plain oxidised wines. It’s a problem for consumers, as on the basis of the appellation you never quite know what you’re going to get, unless you are prepared to do your homework. Having said that, I would rather have a confused melting pot within which swirls some hidden gems than an appellation of dull uniformity. As it stands at present, we could at least say Savennières has something for everyone!

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