The only permitted grape varieties is Chenin blanc, historically, the vines were propagated through massal-selection rather the using specific clones. The variability of massal-selection dictates that flowering is not homogeneous and therefore neither is the ripening; this ensures that in almost every vintage it is necessary for the wines to be picked in two or three passage, although in some vintage and depending on the philosophy of the growers it may be more. The warmest vintage often require the least number of tries. In addition to Chenin one other varieties plays an official part in the appellation Verdelho de Madere and some Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Caberent Franc and Sauvignon; but it is clear that Savennieres is not Chenin Blanc, it is just made from Chenin Blanc; a taste from the landscape.
The soil of the appellation are potentially more complex than any other french viticultural region. A short walk through any one parcel of vines, illustrate how varied the soil type and the mechanical make up can be. It is based on hard rocks, different shists made up of blue granite, quartz, sand stone and volcanic debris such as the red/yellow rhyolite, black phtanite and spilite; red/brown in colour, and created through the reaction of lava being cooled quickly by sea water. The sub-soil remains the same impermeable shist, which can occasionally be seen rising to the surface but, for the most part there is a covering of sand deposit by the action of wind driven up from the river below. This sand offer little in terms of nutrition for the vines and acts only as a mechanical support. This vineyard are often inaccessible as they become waterlogged in winter or after heavy rain as the water doesn't really drain away due to the impervious makeup of the rock below, whilst in summer or periods of drought the sole becomes baked making it difficult to work. The success of the vines here comes from their ability to locate fissures in the shists below and find the necessary nutrition and minerals. Savennieres being just 120 kilometers in land from the Atlantic coast enjoy all the benefits that the Gulf Stream brings. In terms of temperature, the average is between 11.5° and 12° between December and February with an average in July/August of around 19.5° and Autumn here is often extended into October, ideally for late ripening Chenin. The fact that the vineyards lie on the north bank of the Loire river means that they are at the higher altitude than those across the river in the Layon. This results in better exposure to Summer breeze with the vineyards being generally cooler and suffering less humidity than those across the river. In addition the fact that the soil here are much less fertile means that botrytis remains a possibility, the incidence of noble rot for the production of sweet wines is much less likely.
Domaine Baumard produce Clos St Yves which is one of the most important specific area in Savennieres with a schist soil condition and lately i had his 2007. Pale yellow, day bright appearance, clean but closed on the nose, a bit reductive. Well textured with good richness, flowers of quince, lemon pit, stone fruit, good length with a hint of bitterness on the finish. Not very expressive as yet but shows class, very promising.
CLOS de la BERGERIE 2008
Also i had Clos De La Bergerie from Nicolas Joly. From the vineyard Roches-aux-Moines, Joly Bergerie is named for the fact he has actual sheep roaming the property. Aromas of golden apple cider, raw onion repeated on the palate, soft and around the edge, well balanced with acidity, wide, complex, honey dew, kernel character, slightly forest floor, slate, flint, impressive minerality, a wine from a desert island.