A Quick Look at Nicolas Joly Wines
By Kerry Winslow
One of the modern pioneers of Biodynamic farming and a natural winemaker, Nicolas Joly, who once was an investment banker in New York and later in London, makes some of the most interesting white wines in the world. He took over his family’s wine estate Château de la Roche aux Moines, located in Savennières back in 1977 and has done for Chenin Blanc and Savennières what Didier Dageuneau did for Sauvignon Blanc and Pouilly-fume. Joly’s Savennières are deep and edgy wines that take time to understand and grow on you, but once you see the light you’ll search them out and marvel at their unique character and funkiness. In the States we see Joly wines rarely and only three cuvees are available anyway, though I have heard that in some vintages there might also be a sweet wine added to the line up.
The top wine is the Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, considered the holy grail of Chenin Blanc, sort of the Montrachet if you will, a wine of intensity, vibrant color, chalky and with eye popping mineral notes, though a core of peach, baked spicy apple and lemon fruit stays with you.
The next wine in Joly’s line is called Clos de la Bergerie, and it is always to me the most different and intriguing of his wines with a slight sherry like note, mature golden color most often and tangy with a touch of dried fruits. This wine has made me a fan for life; even if it is weird and wild at times I always enjoy the nature of it.
To complete the three wines I’ve tried by Joly, there is the Les Clos Sacrés (or the Les Vieux Clos, as it is labeled in Europe) which is the lightest and most freshly clean in style, it is steely and bright with acid, but still gives great flavor and is very savory.
It seems Nicolas is turning over most of the duties of the Estate to his daughter now Virginie Joly, and after tasting the current releases, I am happy to say the wines are as good as ever and I think the place is in good hands! And if you ever get a chance, get some of these beautiful wines and enjoy them on very special occasions or with your most trusted wine geeky friends, Viva La Chenin Blanc!
Check my notes and reviews of Nicolas Joly