Your Next Lesson: Savennières – The New York Times

Your Next Lesson: Savennières – The New York Times


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From left, Nicolas Joly Savennières Les Vieux Clos 2015, Thibaud Boudignon Savennières Les Fougerais 2015 and Domaine du Closel Savennières La Jalousie 2015.

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Patricia Wall/The New York Times

The seasonal association of red wine with cold weather and white with warm seems to make sense. White wine is generally served colder than red, which suggests that it is more refreshing in the heat, and red is often sturdier, providing the necessary ballast in the cold.

I don’t think that way. It’s not so much a question of the seasonal temperature as it is the diet. In the cold we more often want weightier meals, which generally call for reds, but we don’t entirely abandon dishes that call for whites. So we need white wines that have the heft to be satisfying in weather that could discourage more ethereal bottles.

May I present Savennières from the Anjou region of the Loire Valley? It’s made with the chenin blanc grape, which often has a satisfyingly weighty texture as well as a lightness that comes from the grape’s naturally high acidity. Weighty yet light: It’s the beautiful paradox of chenin blanc.

Savennières is a small appellation. Unlike Vouvray to the east, where chenin blanc is grown predominantly on clay and limestone soils, the grapes of Savennières are grown on schist. This helps to give the wines very different characters.

The three Savennières I chose are:

Domaine du Closel Savennières La Jalousie 2015 (Louis/Dressner Selections, New York) $32

Nicolas Joly Savennières Les Vieux Clos 2015 (David Bowler Wine, New York) $40

Thibaud Boudignon Savennières Les Fougerais 2015 (Skurnik Wines, New York) $60

These wines are all produced in small quantity, and they are virtually made by hand. I recognize that they are not inexpensive, but cheaper Savennières are even rarer than Savennières in general.

If you cannot find these bottles (I know it may be difficult), do not hesitate to try other cuvées from these producers as well as other vintages. Producers absolutely worth seeking out include Château Soucherie, Château d’Épiré, Domaine aux Moines, Damien Laureau, Eric Morgat, Patrick Baudouin, Loïc Mahé, Agnès & René Mosse and Clément Baraut.

reader perspectives

Eric Asimov, The New York Times
wine critic, is talking about
Crozes-Hermitage from the northern
Rhône Valley of France this month. If you would like to
join the conversation, try one of the bottles
listed here and as you try them, ask yourself these questions.

Texture

How might these wines feel different from more-typical whites?

Aromas

How prominent are they? Does it make a difference?

Time

How does the wine change as it sits in the glass?


respond

With these wines, I would suggest firmer fish, like monkfish or tuna; shellfish, like lobster or scallops; poultry, and even veal. Savennières works well with cream sauces and with mushrooms. Risotto is another possibility. My colleague Florence Fabricant recommends this Moroccan-style Cornish hen recipe.

Savennières is among the white wines that age well. These are particularly young specimens, perhaps too young. For that reason, you may consider decanting them, especially the Joly, whose proprietor suggests decanting certain cuvées 48 hours in advance. Just for comparison’s sake, have a taste before you decant to see how it changes.

As always, don’t serve too cold.

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