Domaine du Closel Savennières La Jalousie 2005
The Domaine du Closel (or Château des Vaults, if you prefer the estate’s original name) is one of the grandes dames estates of Savennières. What’s that? You haven’t heard of the grandes dames of the Savennières appellation? I suspect this is because it is a Winedoctor classification, and somehow it hasn’t quite gained the traction that the 1855 classification of the Médoc has. Obviously, I am completely mystified as to why that might be.
Within Savennières there are eight estates, many graced with grand châteaux to match those found west of the Gironde, around which the appellation has grown. More often than not they are in the hands of the latest generation of a winemaking dynasty; Château des Vaults is one, Château d’Epiré is another, Clos du Coulaine now under the management of Claude Papin another, and I guess Domaine aux Moines and Château de la Roche-aux-Moines (this last one is perhaps not the most familiar of names, although the name of the proprietor will no doubt ring a jolly bell) are others. Some, sadly, seem to have lost their way a little; the fact that I haven’t tasted a wine from Château de Varennes in the past fifteen years tells me as much (although I did meet the owner at a St Emilion tasting earlier this year – but that’s a story for another day), as does the fact that the vineyards of the 16th-century Château de Chamboureau are now little more than an outpost of Domaine FL (even if the wines from this latter estate can be exceptionally good). And heaven only knows what happened to Château de la Bizolière, perhaps one of the most historic domaines.
These grandes dames are important historical linchpins within the appellation. They might not always make the best wines (difficult when you have people like Damien Laureau and Eric Morgat working in the appellation) but they are still a vital part of the Savennières scene. In a way, it was these estates that defined the appellation in its early years, none more so, I would suggest, than Domaine du Closel. Château des Vaults came under the direction of the current proprietor Evelyne de Jessey-Pontbriand in 2001, when it was handed down to her by her mother Michèle Bazin de Jessey. It was Michèle who had come up with the alternative name of Domaine du Closel, in honour of Bernard Closel, a prior owner and mayor of Savennières between 1919 and 1956 who was instrumental in the creation of the Savennières appellation.
Evelyne, a teacher by trade, has not rested on her mother’s laurels. Her most notable contribution to the story of this domaine has perhaps been its conversion to organic viticulture, in 2006, with full certification following in 2009. I also feel there was a move towards less intervention in the cellar around the time Evelyne took over, along with a search for a richer style, which meant that some wines from the early years of the 21st century have tended towards oxidation. The 2005 La Jalousie flirts with this style, a bottle I reported on in my Loire 2005 at Ten Years tasting report showing rich character but good freshness, whereas the bottle featured here tends more towards oxidation. In the glass it has a polished and deeply coloured, straw-gold hue. The nose is all biscuit especially orange macaroon, with seams of vanilla, almond nut as well as a touch of praline. It certainly has character, but it doesn’t feel so fresh. There follows a nicely textured palate, full and rich, quite biscuity as the nose suggested, with a real grip and some spicy energy, lifted by a thankfully present acid backbone. Despite its hedonistically rich portfolio of flavour in terms of structure it feels very dry, reserved, cool and linear, leading into a peppery finish. While fascinating, it feels as though the seams may be beginning to fray, and it is clearly inferior to the bottle tasted last year. It prompts thoughts that I should pull out my other bottles and drink up. 16.5/20 (24/10/16)