Variety: Chenin Blanc
Country, Region: France, Loire
From a selection of the rockier terroirs, including a rhyolite based plot in the Chambourcier lieu-dit. Tank fermented, then matured in barrel for 12 months, followed by a final elevage in tank for another 11 months.
'La Bel Ouvrage is often slower to evolve than Les Genêts and this — from a cold and underrated vintage in Savennières — is now coming into its own as a wine of great depth. Beautiful herbal and floral nose, with aromas of mint, tarragon, honeysuckle. On the seamless palate, fruity notes of melon, golden apple, and grapefruit are balanced by a core of ginger and spice, with a bracing edge of zippy acidity, and something even more profound on the super-long finish. Drink 2020-2028.' 95 points, Jason Wilson, Vinous, July 2020.
'This has seen out one year in barrique, then ten months in cuve, then it was bottled. A beautiful definition to it, wonderfully polished yellow plum substance, with a broad texture, and piles of grip. Quite pure, defined, but with very expressive fruit, precise, minerally and bright. It culminates in a long and grippy finish. This is very impressive. Fine potential here.' 95 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2016.
'I have written before that Damien makes the best wines in Savennières, and this tasting did nothing to dissuade me of this opinion.' Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2018.
The Savennières appellation, including its ‘Grand Cru’ sub-appellations of Roche Aux Moines and Coulée de Serrant, is planted to just 156 hectares of vineyard (100% Chenin Blanc) and produces some of the most noble and age-worthy dry white wines of France. And today after just 20 years of winemaking and not having been born into or inheriting any vineyards, Damien Laureau is widely acclaimed as one of Savennières’ top producers.
Although he is often referred to as one of the appellation’s ‘new’ superstars, Damien now has nearly 20 vintages of experience behind him. Coming from a family farming background, he started out working with his uncle at a small vineyard in Anjou in the mid 1990s. By 1999 he had acquired his first vines in Savennières and in 2006 he abandoned the Anjou appellation to focus specifically on Savennières. Since then has gradually increased his vineyard sources through both acquisition and leasing, to the still very boutique total of 8.5 hectares.
Damien works organically in the vineyard and was certified organic in 2012. All harvesting is done by hand in successive tries throughout each vineyard to ensure the highest quality fruit, albeit at the expense of volume. The wines are vinified with natural yeasts and given extended lees contact without batonnage, to build texture but without excessive richness. The wines all go through malolactic conversion allowing a very low sulphur regime, whilst maintaining the freshness and minerality that Savennières is famous for. Maturation takes place in both tank and barrel depending on the wine, however new oak influence is not a part of the style.