One grape, one appellation, four very different wines....

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The tasting at Château des Vaults in Savennières was a revelation in the breadth of the diversity of styles that one little appellation and one single grape can produce, but as a single exercise it served also to demonstrate how something so simple can be so complex. To give you a good overview of what the best Chenin can be like I’ve selected one wine from each producer we met that day.

Domaine FL 2006, Savennières Doux (RRP £15.00)
Pronounced Domaine FL as in Tour Eiffel, this is a producer going through some changes. They’ve just bought in a general manager from Bordeaux and are already evolving their packaging into something very smart. The doux in Savennières doux means sweet, something you could have guessed from the deep amber colour and legs on the glass to make even the tallest of women envious. Rum and raisin aromas jump out of the glass followed by a heady mix of dried apricot flavours and melted sugar on the palate and enough freshness on the finish to make a second glass very enjoyable indeed. Distributed in the UK by Liberty Wines.

 Pithon-Paille Schist 2010 (approx. RRP £14-16)
Produced with respect to the phases of the moon, I suspect this mild form of biodynamics translated well to the gods of taste because of the young wines we sampled this was the most ready to drink. Layered with peach jam and brioche on the nose, followed by full bloom floral notes, lemon freshness and ripe pineapple roundness thanks to 10 months aging in oak. This domaine is certified organic and despite the French term biologique on the label it is worth remembering that biologique means organic not biodynamic. Justifiably Pithon-Paille is imported into the UK by Caves de Pyrennes (wine importers that specialise in organic wines) and Justerini & Brooks.

Château des Vaults, La Jalousie Savennières 2010Château des Vaults, La Jalousie Savennières 2010
From the hosts of our morning in Savennières, La Jalousie 2010 was the freshest and most readily available of all the wines that we tried. Ready to drink despite its austerity it is minerally, citrusy and refreshing on the palate which combined with some light tropical fruit characters too make the second glass a must. £14.00 at Waitrose.

Château de Varennes 2008, Savennières (not currently in the UK, RRP £16.00)
Produced by the Alain Chateau empire this is a classy example of an adolescent Chenin Blanc that’s just starting to blossom. Apricot confit, rich and opulent, the palate is fresh but round with a moreish honeyed finish. The most obviously food friendly wine of the bunch that my minds palate could imagine pairing perfectly with any number of the regions’ delicacies: asparagus, artichokes, pike. Need I go on?