Located within the Anjou wine region of the Loire Valley, Savennières is a small yet highly regarded appellation known for its distinctive and high-quality Chenin Blanc wines. The unique terroir and the meticulous vinification practices in Savennières contribute to the creation of rich, full-bodied, and complex wines that set them apart from other expressions of Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley.
Climate and Weather:
Savennières benefits from a temperate climate with a maritime influence from the Atlantic Ocean. The region experiences moderate rainfall and relatively mild temperatures, which help create ideal conditions for the late-ripening Chenin Blanc grape variety. The diurnal temperature variations allow the grapes to retain their acidity while developing sugar and flavor complexity. The zone lies on slopes perpendicular to the Loire with excellent sun exposure, and features villages perched on rocky outcrops overlooking the river.
Grape Variety and Key Characteristics:
Chenin Blanc, the primary grape variety in Savennières, is an early budding and late-ripening and versatile, high yielding variety that produces wines with high acidity and excellent aging potential. Chenin Blanc's thin skins make it susceptible to botrytis, which can be desirable in certain vintages and in many Chenin-based sweet wines of the Loire. In Savennières, Chenin Blanc typically exhibits flavors of quince, green apple, and lemon with a steely, smoky character. There is often a lanolin or wool component accompanied by a distinct minerality.
Soils and Terroir:
The soils in Savennières are predominantly low-fertility, schist-based with a mix of sandstone, clay, and volcanic elements. These diverse and well-draining soils contribute to the pronounced minerality and structure found in the region's Chenin Blanc wines. Low yields support higher quality.
Due to the late-ripening nature of Chenin Blanc, careful canopy management and selective harvesting are essential to ensure even ripening and the development of optimal flavors in the grapes. Chenin, by nature, is uneven in its ripening and in some vintages, multiple passes through the vineyard may be required to pick grapes at the ideal level of ripeness.
Chenin undergoes a long fermentation at cool to mid temperatures and can last for weeks or months in large botte or stainless steel containers. Malo is avoided to preserve acidity. Chenin has naturally high sugar levels and result in high alcohol levels, typically.
The use of oak treatment is an important factor in the production of some Savennières Chenin Blanc wines but it is not the norm. Barrel fermentation and aging in a combination of new and used oak can impart additional complexity, body, and structure to the wines, without overpowering their fruit and mineral characteristics. Depending on the sugar levels and the fermentation, the wines are mostly dry but off-dry versions are common. AOC regulations require that Savennières wines have a minimum alcohol content of 11.5% and undergo at least 9 months of aging before release.
Business and Appellation:
Savennières is a small appellation, but it has garnered a reputation for producing some of the most highly regarded and age-worthy Chenin Blanc wines in the Loire Valley. The region is home to several notable producers, including Domaine du Closel and Nicolas Joly, who are known for their meticulous attention to detail and commitment to producing high-quality wines that express the unique terroir of Savennières.
In summary, the most important factors contributing to the style, quality, and reputation of Savennières Chenin Blanc wines include the region's temperate climate, the unique characteristics of the Chenin Blanc grape variety, the diverse and well-draining soils, and adherence to AOC regulations. These elements come together to create rich, complex, and age-worthy wines that showcase the incredible potential of Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley.
The Nicolas Joly Savennières is a clear, medium gold wine with a bright and youthful appearance.
The wine has a pronounced intensity on the nose, showcasing a complex array of aromas. Notes of quince, ripe yellow apple, and honey are complemented by hints of beeswax, chamomile, and wet stone, reflecting the wine's distinct minerality. Subtle oak nuances of vanilla and toasted almond provide additional depth.
On the palate, this Savennières is dry, with high acidity and a full body. The pronounced flavor intensity carries through from the nose, displaying flavors of ripe orchard fruits, such as apple and pear, alongside stone fruits like apricot. The wine's minerality is evident, adding a flinty character to the taste profile. Delicate oak influences contribute to the wine's richness and complexity, while the high acidity ensures a fresh and vibrant mouthfeel.
The finish is long and persistent, with the fruit, floral, and mineral flavors lingering on the palate, leaving a lasting impression.
This Nicolas Joly Savennières is of outstanding quality. Its pronounced intensity, both on the nose and palate, showcases the distinct character of the Chenin Blanc grape and the unique terroir of Savennières. The careful use of oak and the wine's high acidity create a balanced and harmonious expression. The acidity is stereotypically high but excellently integrated with the intense and deep flavor expression. The complex array of fruit, mineral, floral, and honeyed notes offer outstanding complexity and interest in this wine. The wine's complexity remains in balance through a long finish, indicating excellence.
This wine is suitable for further aging, with its high acidity and pronounced intensity acting as a solid foundation for the development of tertiary flavors. The wine can be enjoyed now but will benefit from cellaring for another 5-10 years, gaining further complexity and depth.
This outstanding Nicolas Joly Savennières would pair well with rich seafood dishes, such as lobster or scallops in a creamy sauce, as well as poultry dishes with earthy, mushroom-based accompaniments. The wine's high acidity and full body also make it a suitable match for various goat and sheep cheeses.