2016 Domaine du Closel, Savennieres “La Jalousie” Loire Valley, France.
The beautiful 100% Chenin Blanc Domaine du Closel La Jalousie, from the 2016 vintage, shines in glass and thrills on the palate with loads of purity, mineral character, racy fruit and a lovely textural feel that comes from younger biodynamic vines in the Savennieres region of the Loire Valley set on schist soils that allow its expressive nature to lead the way. The all organic, which was certified biodynamic in 2015, Domaine du Closel is run by the talented Evelyne de Pontbriand, who took over the family estate in 2001. Her passion for wine finally got the better of her, becoming a leading vigneron, which was a big career change from teaching French literature, but the results are clear she has a gift for wine, as this wine shows, and she was even elected President of the Savennieres AOC, the first woman ever to hold this position. Her talents in the cellar has made her wines at Domaine du Closel, once known historically as the Château des Vaults, which dates back to 1495, the estate changed its name when it was inherited by Michèle de Jessey, Evelyne’s dad, world class offerings, that I feel are not far off the famous Nicolas Joly Vignobles de la Coulee de Serrant in quality. The Closel vineyards are located exclusively in the most western hill of the Savennières area and includes some of the best parcels in the whole region, including the famed Les Caillardières and Clos du Papillon. The topsoil here is shallow, very warm and made up of purple/green schist and sandstone as well as mineral rich volcanic rock with quartz, phtanites, ryolites and spilites that deliver sublime finesse and complexity in the wines.
The La Jalousie comes from 15 to 20 year old vines set on quartz schist and sandstone, but mostly that decomposed schist and Pontbriand fermented and aged this in stainless steel with 9 to 12 months of aging on the lees, the Jalousie is a modern rendition of Savennières, it is not overtly rich, honeyed or oxidative, but a more crisp version and is nicely fruit-forward, fresh and vibrant made for earlier-drinking. All the grapes, hand harvested, are the first by the estate to harvest each vintage, are destemmed and gently pressed, then fermented with all native yeasts and with very little additional sulfur, so impressively the wine shows almost no reduction in bottle and the mouth feel is opulent, this 2016 is gorgeous in detail and form. The layered and seamless performance of the La Jalousie opens with white flowers, wet stones, preserved citrus that leads to a core of peach and delicate pear fruits along with quinces, muskmelon and a hint of apple butter. There are faint traces of honeycomb, though briskly dry and while elegantly lighter in style it gains a stylish creaminess. This Chenin Blanc really is a fine wine that is great right now, though I can even imagine it aging pretty well for another 3 to 5 years with ease. Interestingly, Pontbriand also has re-trained most of her vines to goblet, or head trained, which she says has improved aromatics and in a step further, she believes trimming the canopy is traumatizing to the vines, so she has been lifting the leaves up and gently winding them up the posts to expose the clusters to the sun. This sensitivity and the attention to detail really seems to have made a difference, this is a stellar white wine and is well worth searching out.
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive