Savennières is renowned for making some of the finest dry Chenin Blanc in the world. The wines are noted for their intensity of flavour and nerve and energy.
It is a small appelation (145 hectares) on the north bank of the Loire just to the south west of Anjou.
This estate was created in 2007 when Philippe Fournier amalgamated two existing estate. The vineyards are now certified organic with low yields (25hl/ha), and a purely manual harvest conducted by making several passes through the vineyards.
“La Croix Picot” is from vines grown on a clay/schist soil. The wine is aged for 12 months in oak barrels and then for a further 6 months on its fine lees in larger oak vats.
It is a dry, full bodied Chenin Blanc with succulent mouthfeel, intense aromas and extraordinary ageing potential. The wine does not undergo the malolactic fermentation to enhance the freshness and bouquet.
Jean-Paul Balland has handed over the running of the domaine to his two daughters – Burgundy-trained oenologist Isabelle makes the wines, and Elise takes care of sales and admin from her impressively efficient office. They have some 20 hectares with fine plots on Le Grand Chemarin and Le Chêne Marchand.
The wines of Bué are full and rich in style, the Balland wines are a classic example from this village. It is said that Jean-Paul made the best wine in the village: we certainly don’t believe that Isabelle is doing any less well – lovely wines.
Only made in the finest years, the grapes (100% Sauvignon Blanc) for the “Grande Cuvée” are from a small parcel of Balland’s oldest vines – 45 years+. Hand harvested, the grapes are crushed in a pneumatic press and then the wine is fermented in 600 litre oak barrels (demi muîds) using natural yeasts. Ageing is again in demi muîds for 12 months with regular stirring (batonnage).
Bright and clear in appearance with a pale yellow hue. An initial bouquet of fresh herbs and white peaches follows on to hints of honey and spices with great complexity and intensity. The palate is rich and generous, dry but fat and rounded with zesty fruit, elegant acidity and hints of toasty oak. A tremendous example of an altogether different take on Sancerre.
This wonderful family domaine has been in the Prieur family for 11 generations and is today run by Luc and Philippe Prieur.
The estate comprises 13.5ha of Sauvignon Blanc in the village of Verdigny, just to the north west of the town of Sancerre. Here the soils are mainly limestone based but the family also have 5ha of flinty, “silex” soil in the village of Thauvenay. The silex soil adds a distinctive smoky edge to the wines. The domaine also has 5ha of Pinot Noir.
Although not currently certified organic, the domaine bans the use of weedkillers and insecticides and the harvest is manual with several sweeps through the vineyards.
Fruit for the lieu dit Pieuchaud cuvée is from the eponymous vineyard on the silex soils of Thauvenay. The grapes are carefully pressed in a pneumatic press before fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. The wine is then aged for 14 months in a combination of old 1,600 litre wooden vats (80%) and 600 litre barrels.
Production is small at around 5,000 bottles.
Dry and fresh with layered flavours of grass and smoky flint notes, the ageing in barrel adds depth, richness and complexity rarely seen in Sancerre.
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