Introduction to the wines of Savennieres.
For me, this entire trip was a demonstration of the passion of winemakers and what makes wine special. Never more so than when exploring the Savennieres appellation. Our Hostess, Viscountess Evelyne de Jessey-Pontbriand brought together some of her colleagues to introduce their wines in person. But first, she treated us to a short tour of the chateau, its vines and some explanation of the terroir of Savennieres and of her own vineyard which produces Domaine du Closel wines.
We started with an energetic walk uphill, till we found ourselves in the middle of the vineyard. Evelyne explained that the characteristic of Savenniers comes from the schist, a hard rock, that over the years has cracked as water penetrated and then froze in winter so that now the roots of vines can reach down 7 or 8 metres. That combined with volcanic deposits give a unique minerality to the wines of Savennieres.
She is the elected president of the AOC Savennieres and together with her mother has gradually revitalised the appellation and encouraged new wine growers to the area. Some of those showcasing their wine only just had their first vintages ready to drink. And we also sampled some Domaine du Closel wines, the wine produced there.
She attributed much of the success of the Savennieres appellation to the influence of Clément Baraut. And it was obvious that her own family’s enthusiasm, both her own and that of her mother, who preceded her as president of the AOC Savennieres has been fundamental in the revitalisation of wine growing in the area.
Each of the wine growers had their own story. Each their own passion and reason for being there. Most of the wines were organic or working towards organic accreditation, several also biodynamic. We sat in a beautiful salon, surrounded by Aubusson tapestries and looking out over the lawn, tasting. Sometimes a vintage that was too young to drink, followed by its older brother…so that someone like me could get a real feel for how important it is to age wine properly.
As a wine lover but relative novice, I was astonished at the variety of wines produced from the Chenin Blanc grape. The wine growers had their own techniques and, from listening to Evelyne, I understand that the variation in minerality together with climatic nuances of each vineyard also had a strong bearing on the wines produced.
The chateau itself is splendid, with an immaculate kitchen garden, sweeping lawns, high ceilings and rather charming deer.
Evelynne offers a variety of packages to introduce visitors to her wines and enable them to stay locally. More information can be found on the website for the Chateau.
If you want to get a real insight into the history, the geography and the passion that goes into making wine, it would be an excellent place to start. And, you get to taste some fabulous wines too.
Chateau des Vaults