The best bottles from appellations like Savennieres don’t just stick in your mind, they lodge themselves there for eternity.
That’s the beauty of the 2015 Domaine des Baumard Savennieres Clos du Papillon: It’s a timeless expression of a thoroughly unique place, rips a hole in the space-wine continuum as well as anything we’ve ever tasted, and easily, joyfully pairs with whatever you eat alongside it. This is one golden wine we are buying for our personal collections by the case.
Today, less than 50 cases are available at the best price in the nation on four or more bottles.
One sip sent us back to the first Savennieres that captivated our palates: We were riding matching powder-blue Raleigh Professionals to the northern banks of the Loire. Outside the hamlet of Rochefort-sur-Loire, on a south-southeast facing slope, we glimpsed a walled-in parcel the shape of a butterfly. It was called Clos du Papillon, and we knew that we’d found something special.
The proprietor generously poured a golden white wine for us from a dust-covered bottle—a dense, generous, bracingly dry bottle of 1976 Clos du Papillon, which to this day remains one of the most important benchmarks for us here at Wine Access—a wine against which we still, to this day, measure so many others. It was Chenin Blanc writ large, a wine of richness, weight, and profundity. Now, all these years later, we are proud to offer their 2015. It’s a wine that, in every possible way, is not just a reminder of that majestic 1976, but a worthy successor.
Wine Spectator called this “distinctive” Chenin Blanc “very alluring, with salted butter, blanched almond and tarragon highlights amid the core of creamed pear, green plum and white ginger flavors.” And while we certainly agree with their 95-point review—it’s easily worthy of that outstanding score—we would argue that there’s something else going on here, a character that only the best wines possess: The ability to transport, to channel you back to a different time and place. This 2015 is a wine of emotion as much as it is of place.
Only a very few wines have that ability.
The deeply evocative Clos du Papillon is found in Savennières, a tiny appellation on the northern banks of the Loire River. It’s one of the smallest and most prestigious appellations in France, and covers a mere 77 hectares, all planted to Chenin Blanc. This particular walled-in holding benefits from a perfect south/southeastern exposure, similar to Vouvray approximately 90 minutes east, which is essential for nurturing slow-maturing Chenin to optimal maturity. The secret to the unusual richness, complexity, and age-worthiness of the Baumard Clos du Papillon has always been in the composition of the soil, a rugged mix of volcanic debris intermingled with sandstone and granite. This imparts an instantly recognizable gunflint minerality that all those years ago sliced through our picnic lunch of goat cheese and pâté like it was nothing. These days, we also recommend it alongside fried foods and the spicier dishes of the Thai and Indian traditions.
We must have been onto something back in the summer we visited Domaine des Baumard, because this wine, vintage after vintage, is a stunner.
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