You can still find it out there with some regularity – the 2002 Baumard Savennieres. It is just freaking killer. And extremely reasonable in price. Some of the Nicolas Joly wines you can find for a song and are terrific. Had a couple 2005s not long ago – although memory is escaping me on which ones – that were superb.
Francois Chidaine is a top notch producer from Montlouis (just across the river from Vouvray) who is worth checking out. It’s not always clear what level of sweetness his wines are, since he does not label them as sec, demisec, etc.
Francois Pinon is another good producer from Vouvray worth checking-out. His “Tradition” wine straddles the line between sec and demisec. Some people feel his terroir is inferior, but I’ve had some great wines from Pinon (including a '96 Primiere Trie that was amazing).
Domaine de Bellivière (Eric Nicolas) does a great job producing wines from nearby regions Jasnieres and Coteaux du Loir. His wines across the range are very interesting, although I’ll note that he’s another producer that doesn’t indicate the level of sweetness.
Joly is worth trying, although he’s very controversial, no so much for the topic of biodynamics per se, but rather because some feel that he doesn’t make very good wine and is essentially wasting a great terroir (Coulee de Serrant). Obviously, you’ll want to make your own choice.
Chidaine from my memory from dryest to sweetest - Montlouis “Clos du Breuil”, Vouvray “Clos Baudoin”, Vouvray “Les Argiles”, Montlouis “Le Bournais”, Vouvray “Les Choisilles”, Vouvray “Les Tuffeaux”, Montlouis “Clos Habert” with the Habert and Tuffeaux about the same level of sweetness. Best vintages here are 2007, 2006, 2005 by far and 2004 to a lesser extent but still worth having. I have added the Montlouis’ as they are must haves for any Chenin lover.
Pinon does amazing work from not-so great terroir. His terroir, is just not as good as Huet or Foreaus but he makes amazing wine from what he has. I love 2007 (esp. cuvee Silex, which is very dry but ample and rich), 2005, 2004, 2002 (amazing if you can find it, little re-release last year).
I hate Joly wines now. Loved the early to mid eighties stuff.
For sweetness on Belliviere it is by the cuvee BUT in years like 2005 they were all sweet as he just goes with the vintage and if the stuff is sweet then it is. 2004 and 2002 are classics here. Their Coteaux de Loir “l’Effraie” is dry. Their Jasnieres “Les Rosiers” is dry like a feinherb in Germany in you barely notice the sugar. The sugar Just adds texture. It is still very taut, lean and complex. The Coteaux de Loir “Vieilles Vignes Eparses” is normally another dry powerful wine that needs aging. The Jasnieres “Calligramme” is the old-vine cuvee and a powerhouse of a wine and very hard to come by. Like a Brand from ZH. Powerful, thick and intense and demands aging but drier than a California Chardonnay, that’s for sure.
Do you know if Chidaine or Pinon has or eventually plans to release a “moelleux/moelleux reserve-styled” '05?
Speaking of Belliviere, I’ve also had the '05 Elixir de Tuf, which I believe has the most RS of the lot… I found it to be in a strange place when I opened it, but you could tell that it had all the right parts and probably just needs time.
Tom, it was a half bottle of 02 Baumard last night that led to my questions. Great minds…
Plus, I found 04 Baumard for something like $14 recently, and I started to wonder if I should load up.
Jim, I believe I’ve seen the Chidaine and Pinon locally - I’ll look for those to taste soon.
I’ve read other discussions of the Joly wines. They do sound interesting. Unless they are priced as reasonably as these other producers, I doubt I’ll try too hard to acquire any.
Lyle, thanks for the vintage notes. After the bottle last night I re-read D. Schilknecht’s last article about the Loire. He indicated, and it wouldn’t have occurred to me otherwise, that 04 was good in Savennieres but problematic in Vouvray.
I’ll start looking for 05 and 07 from Vouvray and follow your recs on Montlouis and other regions.
Next question: what is the significance of Silex? It seems a handful of these producers use it to designate a cuvee.