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2017 Savennières “Cuvée Spéciale”

Château d’Épiré

Discount Eligible $33.00

If any domaine epitomizes the rich history and traditions of the Loire Valley appellation of Savennières, it is Château d’Épiré. Located on the northern bank of the Loire River just outside of Angers, this picturesque castle is home to the Bizard family, who has been producing wine here since 1882, making it the oldest winemaking family in Savennières. Fifth-generation vigneron Paul Bizard farms ten hectares of mostly Chenin Blanc planted in schist soils around the château.
     For the Cuvée Spéciale, Paul harvests grapes exclusively from the domaine’s best vineyard, Le Hu-Boyau. This high-lying, well-exposed parcel overlooking the Loire is special for its stony soils of phtanite, a hard sedimentary rock that is extremely rare in the Savennières appellation. He then ferments the wine in stainless steel before aging it in a combination of old chestnut, acacia, and oak demi-muids within the property’s twelfth-century Romanesque chapel. The result is a zesty, honeyed blanc full of flavor and texture. It will pair as well with a cheese board as it will with roast chicken or Chris Lee’s steelhead trout with beurre blanc.

Click here for Chris Lee’s recipe for steelhead trout with beurre blanc.

Tom Wolf

Technical Information
Wine Type: white
Vintage: 2017
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Chenin Blanc
Appellation: Savennières
Country: France
Region: Loire
Producer: Château d’Épiré
Winemaker: Paul Bizard
Vineyard: Planted in 1989, 1.5 ha
Soil: Schist
Aging: Ages for about 6 months sur lie in very old chestnut demi-muids
Farming: Lutte Raisonnée
Production: 4000 cases
Alcohol: 14.5%

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About The Region


map of Loire

The defining feature of the Loire Valley, not surprisingly, is the Loire River. As the longest river in France, spanning more than 600 miles, this river connects seemingly disparate wine regions. Why else would Sancerre, with its Kimmeridgian limestone terroir be connected to Muscadet, an appellation that is 250 miles away?

Secondary in relevance to the historical, climatic, environmental, and cultural importance of the river are the wines and châteaux of the Jardin de la France. The kings and nobility of France built many hundreds of châteaux in the Loire but wine preceded the arrival of the noblesse and has since out-lived them as well.

Diversity abounds in the Loire. The aforementioned Kimmderidgian limestone of Sancerre is also found in Chablis. Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur boast the presence of tuffeau, a type of limestone unique to the Loire that has a yellowish tinge and a chalky texture. Savennières has schist, while Muscadet has volcanic, granite, and serpentinite based soils. In addition to geologic diversity, many, grape varieties are grown there too: Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne are most prevalent, but (to name a few) Pinot Gris, Grolleau, Pinot Noir, Pineau d’Aunis, and Folle Blanche are also planted. These myriad of viticultural influences leads to the high quality production of every type of wine: red, white, rosé, sparkling, and dessert.

Like the Rhône and Provence, some of Kermit’s first imports came from the Loire, most notably the wines of Charles Joguet and Château d’Epiré—two producers who are featured in Kermit’s book Adventures on the Wine Route and with whom we still work today.

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Where the newsletter started

Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch

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