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Wine Advisor Express:
Savennieres: When patience is a virtue

I ask your indulgence today as I report on a bottle of wine that you probably won't be able to pop down to your favorite wine store and buy. The reason is simple: This item was grown in the 1993 vintage and was released in 1995. It will be the rare retailer who still has any in stock.

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)
Clear, bright-gold, showing the gradual darkening in color that's natural with older white wines but no hint of the browning that suggests an old white is past its peak. Complex aromas mingle caramel and honey-dipped apples and perfumed dried herbs, interesting and delicious. Flavors are rich and full yet bone-dry and tartly acidic - velvet over steel - and consistent with the nose, caramel and apple, honey and herbs, conveying an impression of sweetness but with no sugar at all, opening up in layers in a long, clean finish. A wine that seemed tart, simple and somewhat uninviting in its youth has matured into a beauty, well worth the wait. U.S. importer: Willett Distributing Inc., Alexandria, Ky. (Nov. 26, 2001)

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.)

A Year of Wine and Laughter:
our Wine Toon Calendar 2002!

We've still got a good supply of Wine Toon Calendars! This monthly wall calendar for 2002, exclusive from, contains a chuckle-worthy collection of cartoonist Chuck Stoudt's zany wine 'toons ... plus dozens of favorite wine quotes for every season, AND more than 100 highlighted Wine Web Links, two every week!

While supplies last, order the Wine Toon Calendar at It's only $11.99 (plus $2 shipping and handling for U.S. shipments, $4 for all other countries). Buy one for yourself, and more for your wine-loving friends, and you'll be all set for holiday giving.

Do you own or operate a wine retail store or related business? Why not offer your customers the Wine Toon Calendar on a point-of-sale display during the holiday season? For information on wholesale pricing and shipment, contact me by E-mail at

Remember, this project helps support and The 30 Second Wine Advisor!

This is Wine Advisor Express, daily edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, distributed Tuesdays through Fridays. For archives of previous articles, and to read more about wine, visit Wine Lovers' Page,

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Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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