Savennières

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Savennières, distinctive and much celebrated dry white wine appellation in the Anjou region of the Loire, immediately south west of the town of Angers on southeast–facing schist and sandstone slopes on the north bank of the Loire. Total production of the appellation has increased from the under 30,000 case norm at the turn of the century as these examples of dry chenin blanc display such an unusual combination of nerve, concentration, and longevity that they attracted winemakers from outside the 6-km strip itself, notably from Coteaux du layon across the river. In its Napoleonic heyday, Savennières was a sweet wine, but today, although demi sec, moelleux, and doux versions have become more common in this era of climate change, most of it is dry or, if between 4 and 7 g/l residual sugar, described unofficially as Sec Tendre. The best are unusually concentrated and can last for several decades, even if some are unappetizingly tart at less than seven years old. Within Savennières are the two subappellations Savennières-Coulée de Serrant, a single estate of just 7 ha/17 acres run by the Joly family on biodynamic lines, and the 33 ha of Savennières-La Roche-aux-Moines, in which several different producers struggle to make a living in this frost-prone corner of the Loire valley. More recently better vineyard management and selective picking techniques are achieving much higher ripeness levels which result in wines with both accessibility and complexity in youth, even if they may not last as long as more traditional Savennières. The appellation is bidding to become the Loire’s second Grand Cru after quarts de chaume.