Chateau de Plaisance Savennières 2011
I've been wanting to try a Savennières since I first learned of the region in my wine studies, but the wine is actually not so easy to find in retail shops, especially around $20. Savennières is a subregion of the Loire Valley and wines are made solely of Chenin Blanc. This is a very versatile grape that can produce dry, sweet, or sparkling wines depending on how ripe the grapes are. It can achieve the proper ripeness for each of these styles within the Loire Valley and sometimes within the same bunch of grapes, which I think is pretty badass. Rarely seen in the grape world, the grapes within a single bunch of Chenin Blanc can ripen at different times, so in some areas there are a few harvests where workers will pick lesser ripe grapes for sparkling wines, remove grapes that have begun to rot, then return to pick increasingly ripe grapes for the full bodied dry and sweet wines.
Chenin Blanc has a wide flavor profile because of its versatility, but what is consistent is its natural high acidity. Its richness when fully ripe combined with the acidity allow it to age nicely and some can even continue to develop for a decade. It can show notes anywhere from green fruits all the way through tropical fruits and it develops some nice honey and smokey notes as it ages.
Savennières is one of those subregions capable of producing age-worthy Chenin. The climate is maritime, so it is warm and damp. The vineyards are located on the bank of the Loire River and have a lot of sun exposure, plus plenty of air circulation. These two factors allow grapes to reach very high levels of ripeness because they can hang on the vine longer to soak up some rays without rotting. The wines will be dry, full bodied, and complex. Let's see how this one adds up!
Right away I noticed the minerally, smokey notes on the nose along with the classic Chenin Blanc aroma of wet wool. So far so good. The wine is dry, approaching full bodied, it has a zingy acidity, and shows notes of lemon, green apple, passion fruit, pineapple, and a sweet flavor that, to me, was very similar to agave nectar rather than honey. This is a very tasty wine. I was expecting the flavors to be somewhat richer, but it has a nice complexity to it and I think it will be even better in a couple of years as the acidity, alcohol, and flavors integrate a little more. This is all around a good introduction to Savennières.
Chateau de Plaisance Savennières 2011: Thumbs up! Try it. $19.99