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96 Baumard Savennieres Chenin Blanc

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  • Melanie Wong Apr 12, 2001 06:40 PM
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Howard, don't drink that Baumard too fast. It will be even more fabulous at 10 years of age.

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  1. I've heard that most savennieres improve with age.I bought the Baumard for a dinner party based on the advice that it was good for drinking now with improvement over the years. What an understatement. The Californis Chenins I've tried were sweet and flabby. I'll try to have the willpower to save one or two bottles till 2011.Do you have any recommendations for N. Joly? Thanks Melanie.

    13 Replies
    1. re: howard

      To my taste, most Savennieres is almost undrinkable without considerable age, like 20 years. Or drink them very young before they shut down around year 5 and then wait for 5 to 10 years for them to stir again. 1996 was a banner year, producing very ripe wines with good balance and acidity for the ages. Much more flashy fruit two years ago, now more minerality and firmness of structure is expressed in the 96 Baumard Savennieres.

      Chenin Blanc is only second to Riesling in high acidity. But try to grow it in the wrong climate/soil and you can kill anything.

      A year ago I had the rare honor to meet Nicolas Joly, followed a month later by Florent Baumard in San Francisco. I'd contrast the two by saying that Baumard is the better winemaker (and humbler) of the two, while Joly has one of the greatest vineyard sites in the world. When Joly hits it, there's no better white wine. But often he does not fully realize the potential of his site because he doesn't care that much about winemaking. This is really unfortunate and adds fuel for critics of his biodynamique viticultural practices.

      Baumard is far more reliable. I'd feel comfortable buying his wines in good vintages without tasting. You need to be more careful with Joly as he uses oxidative practices and the wines can suffer.

      Joly poured the 1996 Clos de la Coulée de Serrant and it moved me to near tears (note below). And, the same again when I re-tasted it last August.

      96 NICOLAS JOLY "Clos de la Coulée de Serrant" Coulée de Serrant - Light gold in hue with thick legs, exotic multi-layered nose of honeysuckle, peach pit, granite, sweat, bergamot, spice, guava and quince, weighty in the mouth yet austere in expression, round and ripe acids, majestic balance, subtly complex with great nervousity, piercing focus on the palate with dense extract of citrus, quince, floral, honey and liquid stones, impressive length with very dry finish. Thrilling and very age-worthy. Outstanding

      The 1996 Clos de la Bergerie was much more approachable, and the 97 Becherelle was already on the downslope. I have not tasted a Becherelle that's satisfactory.

      If you like Baumard's entry level Savennieres, you're going to love the Clos du Papillon. Then in great years, there's also a Trie Speciale which is a dry wine but has botrytis and an almost oily richness. My notes on the Baumard tasting are too extensive to post here, but here's one for the oldest wine (and only an average vintage) poured to give you an idea of how they develop.

      79 DOMAINE BAUMARD "Clos du Papillon" - Emerging waxiness in the nose with stones and shy fruit, plenty of fresh acidity to go the distance, amazingly youthful, fruit has not reappeared but any day now, long clean finish. Very Good

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        "96 NICOLAS JOLY "Clos de la Coulée de Serrant" Coulée de Serrant - Light gold in hue with thick legs, exotic multi-layered nose of honeysuckle, peach pit, granite, sweat, bergamot, spice, guava and quince, weighty in the mouth yet austere in expression, round and ripe acids, majestic balance, subtly complex with great nervousity, piercing focus on the palate with dense extract of citrus, quince, floral, honey and liquid stones, impressive length with very dry finish. Thrilling and very age-worthy. Outstanding"

        amazing. here are my own notes:

        light gold in hue with muscular legs just starting to develop some real calves. multi-layered nose reminding me of a picasso portrait; eyes of violet, tinged with red and occasionally suggesting the blue of a scandinavian fjord on a summers day. a gay abandonment of spices mingled with the fruit: cinammon, asafoetida, hot slate stones, turmeric. a second nosing revealed watermelon, basmati rice cooked in uttar pradesh circa 1993 and new zealand clam chowder.

        the wine was weighty in the mouth, sometimes it wanted to be on a diet but then at others it wanted to show off its full figure. this nervousness was a little distracting till you accepted its feminity - then it opened up and enveloped you in its robes of musty velvet and strawberry. i thought i detected some sweatiness, but that could have just been me.

        the finish was long; its middle was a beethoven symphony played on castanets but the last lingering notes were angels calling on from the deep.

        will reach its full potential on midsummer nights day in 2007, around 11.30 a.m. DO NOT DRINK AT ANY OTHER TIME.

        1. re: howler

          whoops, forgot to add: my overall impression - lusty. very lusty.

          1. re: howler
            m
            Miguel Gierbolini

            Wonderful. Could we see your notes for Manischewitz?

            1. re: howler

              Rather than muscular calves, my impression was more of thunder thighs.

              But, pray tell, Howler, did you like it?

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                i don't know about you, but my wine notes are unsullied by any trivial questions or crude vulgarities such as how i 'liked' it. i aim for the purely professional, cool, calm, objective, disinterested scientific note.

                what does liking it have anything to do with it?

                1. re: howler

                  "...the purely professional, cool, calm, objective, disinterested scientific note."

                  And that it is, indeed, in shovelfuls.

                  I am so delighted that we can share like this, howler. In the past I had misinterpreted your silence in reponse to my previous requests for your wine notes substantiating your opinions as turning tail and running. Now I see your true intent and appreciate that you were merely refraining from expressing irrelevant emotions.

                  We await your Manischewitz notes.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    "In the past I had misinterpreted your silence in reponse to my previous requests for your wine notes substantiating your opinions as turning tail and running."

                    the howler NEVER flees. but so few of my notes have reached the high standard of metaphors i hold out for that a certain shyness is inevitable. you can imagine the struggle - does the wine reek of bats breath? or is it vulture feet mixed in with kelp? these are not questions settled lightly.

                    "Now I see your true intent and appreciate that you were merely refraining from expressing irrelevant emotions."

                    your sympathy and complete understanding relieves me; i feel washed in liquid stones.

                    1. re: howler

                      Your gentle readers appreciate the care with which you choose your words, shy howler.

                      You are not alone in the debate between bats breath or the somewhat rare marine vulture feet variant. I was just reading that the ester that's so distinctive in eau de bats breath is nearly identical to the main fragrance compound in marine vulture feet. They differ only by an additional carboxyl at the 2-position.

                      How I envy your vast experience with marine vulture! My own is limited to the more mundane California chaparral creatures. Of course what the vulture was dining on most recently can make a huge difference, e.g., squirrel vs. bob-tailed deer carrion. I find that the deer carrion lends a certain over-roasted carob bean note as you would expect from a cloven-hoofed animal. And, I will confess that I've been fooled more than once by vulture feet resting on freshly killed wild boar piglet carrion thinking it was three-day rotted deer.

                      Would that be the liquid stone minerality of the Mosel's blue slate or more akin to the beaten rocks of India's sacred rivers?

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        at long, very long last! a kindred spirit! i wipe the tears from eyes, knowing that i am not restlessly alone. who else would understand molten monkey hair?

                        lets kiss and make up - an event worthy of the holy peacock sacrifice.

                        peace?

                        1. re: howler

                          Peace? Were we at war? Must admit that comparing Joly Savennieres to Beethoven when the wine is treble and more elaborately detailed ala Mozart almost drove me to blows. But since you've had the more recent opportunity to bury your nose in the steamy fragrant mass of manure deposited in Joly's vineyards by his plow horse, I defer to your calling the tune. I respect and accept our differences. Hope this is mutual.

                          My "pet" peacock (of the more blue Indian variety) and his loyal mate have disappeared. Guess he didn't like the name I gave him to matching his squawking and howling.

                          Peace be.

          2. re: Melanie Wong

            Thanks Melanie for the advice and tasting notes re Joly.They're very useful. Will start Sav hunting soon.

            1. re: howard

              You're welcome, howard, I knew you could cut through the shorthand/jargon and it was quicker to post them as is, the way they were jotted for my own personal use. The other Savennieres that can be very good is Epiré. You'll want the unfiltered version that Kermit Lynch imports.