For years we have imported the only remaining chestnut-aged Savennières. Chestnut is a neutral wood that totally respects the particular natural aromas and flavors of schist-grown Chenin Blanc in this part of the Loire Valley. It was the traditional aging vessel locally until oak came along, at which point history was roundly dismissed. KLWM, in partnership with Épiré’s owners, the Bizard family, decided to preserve this history. A few years ago we slowly began to replace the oldest barrels with acacia, the next-best thing, as all the local barrel-makers had disappeared and we found no other source—until just recently. Our first new chestnut barrel makes its debut this year. Vintage 2016 was relatively late at Épiré (and cool), and the resulting wine is classic Savennières: pure, racy, and grainy, the impact of Épiré’s unique magmatic soil palpable.
Assembled in great years from the Neveu family’s best parcels around Verdigny, Chavignol, and Sancerrre, “PFX”—as it is affectionately known by the family—is raised in oak rather than stainless steel (the former being the historical norm in Sancerre). The three principal terroirs of Sancerre are incorporated: terres blanches, silex, and caillottes. Caillottes are the small, sharp limestone rocks that litter the surface of many Sancerre vineyards, including the Neveu family’s largest vineyard, “Les Embouffants.” The oak adds a grain and level of class and backbone that raises this cuvée a step above the domaine’s classic Sancerre bottling. PFX ages more slowly and gracefully than most Sancerres, and it makes a great cellar diversification play.
Due to arcane laws surrounding the mention of sur lie on a bottle of Muscadet, any wine carrying the designation must be aged “on its lees” for a predetermined period of time, but if it surpasses a year on its lees, it can no longer call itself “sur lie.” Go figure. This 2011 spent forty months on its lees in underground, glass-lined tanks beneath Michel Brégeon’s winery in Gorges. When you smell it, keep in mind that no other wine, besides a Melon de Bourgogne grown in the gabbro soil of Gorges, could possibly smell like this one does. Gabbro is an igneous rock most often found in the earth’s crust beneath the ocean and forms, in my opinion, the greatest terroir on earth for Melon de Bourgogne.
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