The medley of pear, white flowers, and juicy pineapple typical of Savennières gains in complexity in the Spéciale thanks to a selection of grapes from top parcels and a half-year spent in chestnut demi-muids.
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 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 brings 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 top soil is a beautiful blue slatey schist that covers the vineyard floors, lending nerve and firmness. We import two cuvées of Savennières from Chateau d’Épiré. Their Cuvée Spéciale is blended by Kermit from their best parcel and creates a dry wine, austere within its first two or three years, that develops substantially with age. This cuvée is aged in traditional but largely abandoned chestnut barrels. The other cuvée is also dry, but more accessible young, with notes of exotic fruits. Both are delicious and spectacularly complex, and show a value disproportionate to their pedigree.
Known for its delightful whites and sparkling Pétillant and Mousseux, made predominantly of Chenin blanc, Anjou has a temperate and dry maritime climate. The region's limited temperature variations are admiringly referred to locally as the “douceur angevine,” or “Anjou sweetness.” Fruit forward rosé and red wines from Cabernet Franc and Gamay merit Anjou its success within the Loire subregions.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin Blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Somm Secret—Landing in South Africa in the mid 1800s, today the country has double the acreage of Chenin Blanc planted compared to France. There is also a new wave of dedicated producers committed to restoring old Chenin vines.