Savennieres: When patience is a virtue
I don't do this to torment or tantalize you, but to illustrate today's point: A few wines - including a VERY few whites - simply don't show their stuff until they've had several years to mature and develop in the bottle.
Today's wine is one of the most classic examples of this genre: Savennieres, from vineyards around the village of the same name on the north bank of the Loire near Angers. Made from the Chenin Blanc grape, a widely underrated variety, Savennieres is very dry and very acidic, not an easy wine to get to know. Taste it young, and you're likely to wonder what it's all about. My notes on youthful Savennieres typically reflect bone-dry wines with searing acidity and simple, un-generous aromas and flavors of wildflowers and lime. Pleasant enough, fine companions with seafood or fish, but seemingly nothing special.
But set one aside, stored carefully on its side in a cool place, and leave it alone for five to 10 years while time works its magic. As the wine darkens from watery pale to golden, a remarkable richness and complexity develops, turning the ugly duckling into a swan.
It takes patience to plan years ahead and to wait, but as noted above, when it comes to Savennieres, patience is a virtue. Pick up one, or a few, from the 1999 vintage this month, and you can look forward to real enjoyment toward the end of the decade.
Domaine de Closel 1993 Cuvee Speciale Savennieres ($15.99 in 1995)
FOOD MATCH: The wine's rich complexity makes it a perfect foil for a simple dish of spinach tortellini in a creamy besciamella with a sprinkle of black caviar. (Not a usual condiment around here, but the remains of a jar of low-price caviar left over from a dish made earlier in the week.)
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Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2001