Savennières La Roche aux Moines “Cuvée de l’Avant" 2002 – Château de Chamboureau, Pierre Soulez
– Alc. 14.5% - (c.€10)
About two years ago, I wrote a note expressing some concern about the then subdued performance of a bottle from a half-dozen of this which I had just purchased at the above incredibly low price at a local supermarket. Saviennières, particularly at La Coulée de Serrant and La Roche aux Moines, has the potential to produce great wine even if too many of the producers underperform; so a price of €10 from a reliable, if not inspired, producer like Soulez was an irresistible temptation.
To help the wine to open up, I splash decanted and that, together with the intervening months, produced an altogether more expressive result.
C: Quite deep golden yellow.
N: Quite quiet in volume but subtle and complex with notes of quince, white flowers with a lot of honeysuckle and touches of spice and minerals. Could have presaged a much sweeter wine but there was no sense of mismatch.
P: Quite full, round and rich with a sensation of burnished generosity and structure building up towards the finish (no doubt aided by the high alcohol) and the same subtle aromatics as on the nose which blossomed more fully as the wine warmed up during the meal. Subjectively there seemed to be some sweetness but it is my guess that there is no more than 3-4g of RS. Lacking the superb focus and brightness of Vouvray from Foreau and Huet but partly compensating with a generosity which they do not have. A fine wine which may improve further and great QPR; 16.5/20++.
(I cannot recall whether the fate of this estate has been reported on this board. Soulez sold out to the Angers telecommunications businessman, Philip Fournier, as did the well regarded Jo Pithon. Initially Pithon was to manage the joint estate, which was good news, but Fournier called in a consultant from Bordeaux, Stéphane Derenoncourt, and Pithon has walked out or was pushed - http://www.thewinedoctor.com/weekend/jo ... ot05.shtml
. I feel great misgivings about Bordeaux methods being brought to the Loire valley and I hope that the results will be less homogenising that first impressions of a similar injection of Bordelais “expertise” into the Jaboulet firm in the Rhône valley. One thing is fairly certain; there will be no more availability of fine cuvées at €10.)