Domaine du Closel 'Les Caillardieres' Savennieres 2019
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Direct Press Selection • December 2022
Savennières is one of the great appellations for dry Chenin Blanc, especially for age-worthy versions. Words like 'majesty,' and 'monumental' are often used when describing the area, with some calling it 'the most cerebral wine in the world.' In that context, it's refreshing to hear Evelyne de Pontbriand of Domaine de Closel dial back the seriousness a bit. "Wine should taste good," she says, "but it's important for the vigneron to be happy with what he's doing. It's one thing to express a terroir or an appellation, it's another to express joie de vivre in what you do."
Woman have been at the helm of Domaine du Closel for many years, going back to Evelyne's great aunt, who passed on the estate to Evelyne's mother Michèle in 1962. Evelyne's reign began some twenty years ago with an immediate push to organic viticulture. They are now certified Biodynamic, and in terms of winemaking she says, "we don't do anything in the cellar!" A small amount of sulfur is used when needed but otherwise fermentations and aging are long, slow, and largely undisturbed.
Les Caillardières is one of the best parcels in Savennières, with vines planted in the 1980s on very hard soils, mostly schist. This is a wine that could not be made anywhere else. There is an immediate sensation of rocks and stones, and while the fruit is rich and honeyed (just barely off-dry at 3.5 grams/liter), it is matched by a persistently strong mineral core, finishing with racy acidity and a deeply satisfying leesy crunch. It is a wine for your head but it will easily win your heart, too. I find that Chenins like this with a little sugar, just like Mosel Riesling, are one of the most age-worthy and moving white wines that exist. There are few wines that can achieve this, and it has to be a harmonious combination of nature and human stewardship. Jonathan Kemp