Loire Valley, France
I just tasted this wine yesterday and ordered a case immediately upon smelling it. I then tasted it, and my palate agreed with my nose thank God. Of all of the white wines that we stock at Table Wine, South Asheville’s top wine store, this might just be the most complex and the best in my opinion for the money.
The Baumard family have been major players in the Loire villages of Savennieres and Anjou for many years, but they’ve especially risen to prominence in the past century. These days, Florent and Isabelle Baumard run the estate with great care and attention to their vineyards. Their wines are consistently judged as some of the best in the appellation by the wine lovers and writers all over the world. Savennieres, along with Vouvray, is regarded by most in the know as the top spot(s) in the world for Chenin Blanc. The key difference is that, while Savennieres began as a sweet wine, and has since confidently developed into one of the Loire’s finest dry whites, Vouvray has retained its multiple personalities, sometimes to its detriment unfortunately.
Florent has modernized the estate in a number of ways since taking over the reigns from his father Jean in 1990. In particular, in 2006 Florent surprised almost everybody with a whole-scale move to Stelvin screwcap for even his top wines. This is an interesting development from my point of view as Savennieres is a wine noted for its capacity to age for many years, and there is still little proof that wines bottled with this enclosure age the same way as those bottled under natural cork. Fortunately, the current release of this wine is so amazingly good that I really could care less.
As I said, the aroma of this wine was absolutely intoxicating, seductive and memorable, and I’ll have no problem drinking several bottles over the course of the next couple of years. To understand Loire Valley Chenin Blanc and its aromatics, one has to understand the soil. The dirt here is marked by gravelly, free-draining topsoils with a deep bed of tuffeau – the highly porous limestone-rich sedimentary rock deposited all over the Loire region during the Turonian geological age. The resulting wines are highly limestone-influenced with an aroma reminiscent of water running over stone in a young river. Vintage 2007 was a warm one in the Loire, so Florent was able to pair this minerlity with a beautiful purity and intensity of fruit, namely musky pear, apple, peach and quince. There is something haunting and cerebral about this wine that can’t really be put into words………..the best I can come up with is “World Class White Wine” – I know that sounds pretty generic, but for $22.99/bottle, it’s definitely worth taking the “risk”. Enjoy it now or over the next several years with fresh seafood or river fish cooked seared or baked very simply in olive oil and herbs. You won’t be disappointed.