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Sep 19, 2007 09:23 PM

My 2004 Joly's Coulée de Serrant came with an instructions sheet!

I've been a long time fan of Nicolas Joly, in particular his top-of-the-line Clos de la Coulée de Serrant. But this one is a primer:

I got today my (long awaited) 2004 case, and inside the case there was... an instructions sheet! Just one for the entire case, mind you. Meaning, if you buy by the bottle, forget it.

So for the general instruction of the Honorable Members of the Board, and as a matter of record keeping for posterity, I'll proceed to transcribe it into cyberspace.

It's not signed, so I guess no Copyright issues will arise ( Gatekeeper: take notice )

NOTA BENE: it's in English. Now the question is, is this the importer's idea? Do French consumers get it? Wer weisst...

Enough said, now here's the beef:


Chenin gets its complexity only when it is fully ripe - deep yellow. And only healthy, sustainable farming can guarantee this without rot.
For this reason, all our grapes are picked in four or five passes as each parcel begins to raisin and form botrytis - thereby allowing the mineral flavors of Chenin to achieve their fullest intensity. Once opened, wines made this way continue to improve - and are in no way oxydized. Open few hours in advance or carafe the wine. Serve at 14C / 57F

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  1. I'm curious about this as well. A few weeks ago I enjoyed the 2002 Domaine des Baumard Savennieres. It was wonderful: started with [what I thought was an intentionally oxidized] nose and palate of brioche, hops and slight caramel, which blew away to reveal layers of minerality and lovely light herbs – tarragon, chives – and nice citrus notes of lime and tangerine. After being opened 30 minutes, most of the brioche/hops/slight caramel notes had dissipated.

    I know that Coulee de Serrant is a separate AOC near Savennieres, with its own special perch above the Loire. What I've learned is that both Joly’s Coulee de Serrant and Savennieres in general are made in this intentionally oxidized style – a function of winemaking, not of age.

    Would this then explain the note that came with RicRios’s Coulee de Serrant – that its oxidative flavors are not due to age (maturity) but actually are the result of an intentional and "controlled" oxidation, one that gives rise to the aromas/flavors of brioche, hops, etc.?

    (BTW, I don’t understand the botrytis line of copy…unless it's referring to a moëlleux...and I’m wondering if more than a few mistranslations are at play here.)

    Also, can anyone describe the aroma and flavor differences between the Joly wines and Savennieres in general?

    A pairing note: I had the Baumard Savennieres with crab cakes, and it was a revelation: the toasted brioche/hops/slight caramel matched perfectly with the browned crust of the crab cakes; the herbs lined up as well, as did the citrus. A lovely white with seafood. Finally, the acid was a good foil against the fried (but not greasy) crab cakes. Savennieres is now one of my go-to wines to pair with seafood that is breaded or prepared with a nut crust. A good buy, as well, at about $20.

    But this oxidation thing really has me going...I'm intrigued and delighted. I've searched and searched for more info about this in reference to Joly's wines (Joly is a biodynamic fanatic, yet oddly laissez faire in his winemaking) and Savennieres in general but have found only vague references to this intentional oxidation.

    2 Replies
    1. re: maria lorraine

      > about $20.

      for $22 you can pick up a nice 1994 Sav from K&L, if you jump on it.

      for $20 you can pick up the 2004 of the same.

      pretty sweet deal if you ask me...

      ps. Like duh, I jumped on this a week ago. I usually won't pay > $20 for anything that doesn't come from Madeira but this was just too good an opportunity to pass up. Domaine des Baumards is nice, but I've always wanted to try a properly matured Savennieres, and for $22?! I like to pretend that I'm all about grape diversity, but I know I love Chenin Blanc (and Chenin Noir, aka Pineau d'Aunis, as it happens -- there's one worth searching out!).

    2. interesting... joly recommends 9-10 days decanting in everything that i have read. a few weeks ago i actually opened an '02 coulee de serrant 4 days before drinking it. my prior somewhat underwhelming experiences with joly quickly turned to astonishment

      2 Replies
      1. The note doesn't surprise me, based on several Joly wines I've had, including the Coulee de Serrant, Becherelle, and Clos Sacres. I've also noticed in in Closel and Baumard Savennieres wines and Huet Vouvray wines. Many need plenty of cellar time and/or aeration.

        Maria, Joly makes a Coulee de Serrant Moelleux, too.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Brad Ballinger

          Oddly, tonight, Joly's name came up in conversation about iconoclastic winemakers. He is quite a character -- single-minded and brilliant and odd.

          Which reminds me that I haven't been drinking enough Savennieres this summer and need to go rectify the situation.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              "Single-minded, brilliant, and odd" can also describe another Loire denizen -- Didier Dageuneau. HIs wines from Pouilly Fume can also appear "oxidized" even though they aren't. Hmmmm.

              My oldest Savennieres wines (non-Moelleux) are from 2002. Still too early to drink those.

              1. re: Brad Ballinger

                Thanks for the tip about Joly's moelleux. Didn't know about that.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Fernand Point (allegedly) once said that the three great white vineyards in France were Montrachet, Yquem, and Coulee de Serrant. If Joly ever decides to make a vin liquoreaux from that site, it will likely be worth the princely sum it would command... and the 25 years or so that the received wisdom says would be required for it to reach its peak.

                  Not too long ago I had a 2004 and 1994 dry Savennieres in rapid succession (a few nights or maybe a week apart). The difference in minerality, acidity, and heft was unmistakable. The 'English vice' notwithstanding, I must now firmly side with those who favor aging Chenin Blanc. The 1994 with halibut and a little lobster... such a perfect match, to my palate, it would be hard to improve upon it.

                    1. re: ipponwara

                      Yup. Maurice Edmond Sailland (October 12, 1872, Angers, France – July 22, 1956, Paris), better known by his pen-name Curnonsky.

                      According to Joly's website, concerning La Coulée de Serrant:

                      "The place since remained famous. Louis XI speaks about it with devotion: “the gold drop”. Louis XIV tried to visit it in a coach which got stuck in the mud, “the sovereign conceived some moods” says the rumour. Maurice Constantin Weyer speaks about it, Alexandre Dumas also, and more recently, in the beginning of the 2Oth century, Curnonsky, the prince of the gastronomes, defined it as one of the 5 best white wines of France."


                      ( The other 4 being: Château d'Yquem, Montrachet , Château Grillet and Château-Chalon. )