Grape(s): Chenin Blanc
Localization: Savennières, Anjou, Loire Valley, France
Tasting Notes: This lightly wood-aged wine is rich, densely textured with powerful apple and spice flavors broadened by a touch of honey and ripe clementine flavors. The wine is well proportioned and set for further aging.
Notes: The Cuvée Spéciale is what it usually is, their best parcel, old vines next to the Coulée de Serrant, fermented and raised in demi-muids, and bottled unfiltered. All for us! It is intense with a strong goût de terroir to go with the fruit. It is powerful, coiled like a spring, needs some time, and can age well into the next century.
The Domain: One of the oldest and most celebrated domaines in Savennières, Château d’Épiré is rich in history, not only for its fabulous architectural rendition of the Petit Trianon of Versailles but most especially for its exquisite wines. Savennières is situated just southwest of Angers, on the north bank of the Loire River. Vines have been cultivated there since the time of the Romans. The Plantagenet dynasty allowed for the first exports of wine to be sent to Great Britian in the 11th century. The Domaine itself has been in the Bizard family continuously since the 17th century. The current head of the estate is Paul Bizard, who took over for his father, Luc, in 2018. The Bizards own eleven hectares, nine of which are entirely dedicated to the cultivation of Pineau de la Loire, known today as Chenin Blanc. The château is exquisite, but the pièce de résistance is their winery, formerly a Romanesque chapel, which is from the 12th century. Truly a blessed wine!
Despite the beauty and timelessness of the building structures, it is the vineyard for which the Domaine is best known. The Savennières from Épiré is regarded as Grand Cru. The Domaine works primarily in three parcels: La Croix Picot, Le Parc, and Le Hu-Boyau. It is the latter that sits just above another famous vineyard, La Coulée de Serrant. The soils here are rich, and the microclimate is ideal. Southern and south-eastern sun exposure bring ripeness to the grapes, while the proximity to the Loire River keeps the temperatures moderate. The subsoils are comprised of sandstone and schist, and the topsoil is a beautiful blue slatey schist that covers the vineyard floors, lending nerve and firmness. We import two cuvées of dry Savennières from Château d’Épiré. Their Cuvée Spéciale is blended by Kermit from their best parcel and creates a powerful wine, austere within its first two or three years, that develops substantially with age. This cuvée is aged in demi-muids, primarily in traditional but largely abandoned chestnut barrels. The other cuvée, aged in stainless steel, is more accessible young, with floral notes and lip-smacking acidity. Both are delicious and spectacularly complex and show a value disproportionate to their pedigree.