Domaine des Baumard, Savennières Clos St Yves, Loire, France, 2018
One of the Loire’s most lauded producers, Florent Baumard has courted controversy by pursuing his own ideas and challenging the status quo.
In a deeply traditional region, Florent's early adoption of screwcaps and different vine trellising systems marked him out as the enfant terrible of Savennières. His mantra now encompasses a belief in the individuality of each vintage, believing it should be made with minimal intervention to allow the wine to reflect its vintage and unique character. His Savennières from the famous vineyards of Clos St Yves and Clos du Papillon are rich, yet with a balance and elegance that are unrivalled. His top cuvée of ‘Trie Speciale’ is only made in very exceptional vintages when grape quality is optimal. It is a wine full of paradox, honeyed and yet dry, rounded and yet firm. The rich fruit, tremendous weight and concentration ensure that it is a thoroughly memorable experience.
The Baumard approach to viticulture is a notable one, and it does make it easy to spot the Baumard vines in any given appellation. They are trained in a fashion Baumard describe as vignes hautes et larges (sometimes abbreviated to VHL); the larges refers to the distance between the vines, a remarkable 3 metres between the rows and 0.8 metres between each vine, whereas the hautes refers to the high trellising system employed, taking the vines to a height of more than 2 metres, the object being to obtain a large surface area of foliage. During the vegetative period they see limited leaf-thinning along their base, but otherwise there is little intervention at this time, not even topping-off of the upper shoots as they reach for the sky above. Between the rows, the soil is alternatively ploughed and grassed over, a methodology the Baumards have been following for well over 40 years. The harvest is manual, and the fruit transported in small plastic cages to minimise damage.
The key to success is to hand harvest the best quality fruit in succesive tries and once in the winery the task is to protect this precious juice. Fractional pneumatic pressing of whole bunches followed by fermentation at low controlled temperatures. Matured for 9 months in stainless steel on its fine lees. Purity of fruit is the aim and even oak is deemed unnecessary in this quest.
No oak ageing
Intense aromas of green apple, honey, apricot and white flowers with a hint of gun smoke. The chenin fruit on the palate is clean and bright and combined with the minerality its just perfect. Ripe fruit yet zesty acidity ensuring that there will life in this bottle for many years to come.
A great partner for grilled fish, seafood, salads or slightly spicy dishes.
Chenin Blanc 100%
12 x 75cl
Award: Wines and Spirits Magazine 93 Points