Domaine du Gué d’Orger Savennières Équilibre 2007
More from the Loire this week, but rather than Muscadet – which is at the forefront of my mind at the moment, with a number of updates made or imminent – my thoughts this weekend turned back to Savennières. This was an appellation I really focused on last year, publishing a lot of new profiles, tastings and profile updates in the process, although it has to be said my main purpose was to really get to grips with the appellation for once and for all. I wanted to understand the wines and the different styles, and then hopefully add a new section to my Loire wine guide. The former goal I achieved, but on the latter I failed; I still haven’t had a chance to really encapsulate my thoughts about this appellation as yet. It’s coming soon, though, I promise!
Despite my best efforts, one domaine that consistently eluded me during my tastings was Domaine du Gué d’Orger, a young domaine run by relative newcomer Loïc Mahé. Missing out on Loïc’s wines was a disappointment, as I had heard good things about the domaine, but the simple truth was that I had some difficulty tracking down any examples of the wines, and I was unable to meet up with Loïc despite several visits to the Loire. Happily, although it is not really an adequate substitute for visiting and tasting the full range, and getting a feel for how Loïc works in the vineyards and cellar, I have now at least managed to track down a couple of bottles to open and taste at home. Before getting round to the wine though, first a few words on Loïc himself.
Loïc Mahé is another of the new arrivals to the Loire; many have recently piled into Montlouis (Xavier Weisskopf, Bertrand Jousset) but there are also new enthusiasts in and around Savennières, although to be fair the likes of Eric Morgat and Damien Laureau do come with a family history of viticulture and winemaking (they have also been around a few years now; at some point I will have to stop thinking of them as newcomers!). Loïc’s story, meanwhile, is more akin to that of Xavier or Bertrand; he was a complete novice to viticulture, originally from Brittany, who discovered wine when studying agriculture. He first worked with the aforementioned Laureau before setting up alone, starting with rented vines in the 2005 vintage, then acquiring his own cellar in 2007. He produces two principal cuvées, Équilibre and Les Fougeraies. It is the former of these that I have tasted here. The general philosophy seems to focus on low yields and minimal wood influence, with fibreglass and old barrels the preferred vessels for fermentation and élevage. That sounds rather like Damien’s methods; he has obviously had some influence on the way Loïc works.
Anyway, onto the wine. The 2007 Savennières Équilibre from Loïc Mahé has a remarkably rich golden hue, raising an initial suggestion of oxidation or perhaps the rather more nebulous ‘oxidative’ description. Indeed, the most immediately apparent aroma as the wine is poured is suggestive of bruised apples, and it doesn’t have a great deal of appeal; nevertheless, as an illustration of the benefit of decanting, the nose shows much better definition with a broader range of fresher but still very concentrated fruit aromas after just half an hour’s exposure to the air. The nose develops hints of ginger and fennel seed with fresh vanilla, all sprinkled over rich golden nuances suggestive of ripe pear and dried tropical fruits. This is firmly in the modern style of Savennières, deep and concentrated, suggestive of low yields and very reminiscent of Richard Leroy’s wines (although he uses much more new wood of course, and that certainly isn’t the case here). The palate is rich, warm and grippy, powerful and energetic and highly charged, with a full, broad and well-structured substance on the palate, and it is more convincing than the softer, fatter character found on the nose would have suggested. The acidity is solid and powerful rather than delicate, although this sits well with the solid depth and structure of the wine; it carries 14%, and although this isn’t obtrusive I’m sure it contributes towards the rather firm, weighty feel here. Nevertheless, despite this weight the wine still manages to feel fresh, the grip is undeniable but there is an impressive frame to the finish. This is long, endearing and of high quality. I’m looking forward to tasting more wines from Loïc in the future. 17/20 (12/3/12)