Big but good

I was first introduced to Savennières on a trip to the Loire. We visited Pierre Soulez first and I was instantly sold on his wines. They are very concentrated and dense, but very well balanced and interesting. The Cuvée d’Avant means that it has been harvested late and fermented in oak. Oak is not commonly used for Savennières, but M. Soulez thinks it makes his wines more approachable when young. His best wines are often quite sweet, but with the density and acidity they are fine matches for food. He puts an indication of sweetness on the label for these wines, in this case moelleux.

Savennières Clos du Papillon Moelleux Cuvée d’Avant 1999, Pierre Soulez/Château de Chamboureau

A deep yellow colour, this looks ripe. The nose is dense with ripe apple fruit and some botrytis. You can really smell the ripeness of the grapes. It has a really pronounced minerality, the nose is rich and earthy. It has a degree of Chenin Blanc wet wool character, but it is surprisingly clean. There is no sulphur or oxidation, common problems with Loire Chenin. It is rich and powerful, but doesn’t taste very sweet thanks to very well integrated acidity. With the fruit, minerality and acidity this is a very complex palate. Very long, too, with the fruit and minerality persisting for a long time. This is excellent Savennières that is really up for drinking; I love it.

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