Origin: Savennières, Loire, France
Grape: Chenin Blanc
Monique Laroche has been making wines at Domaine Aux Moines for three decades, guided by her own determination to produce a Savennières wine that expresses the typical characteristics of the Chenin grape and that also expresses the terroir of Savennières-Roche-Aux-Moines area. She and Tessa’s father used to own a little vineyard in the same area but they did not produce any wine there until the year 1971, which was the year in which Tessa was born. They bought this second estate Domaine Aux Moines in 1981; Tessa explains ”the domaine Aux Moines is purely a women’s affair, it’s just me and my mother, my father is still alive but is not involved at all”.
Chenin Blanc is a white skinned grape variety from the Loire Valley. It is an incredibly versatile grape that is used to make all kinds of wine: sparkling (Cremant de Loire), dry ( Savennières and Saumur), off-dry (Vouvray and Montlouis),and sweet (Coteaux du Layon, Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaum). It has a very distinct flavour profile that combines a searingly bright acidity with apple, honey and mineral flavour concentration. Because of the naturally high acidity it ages very well and gains incredible depth and complexity as it the honeyed notes become more concentrated.
It’s fully exposed to the sunlight, facing South/South-West. Furthermore, this area is sheltered from the cold North winds, and its proximity to Loire River, as well as to the ocean means that the vineyards here have a natural built-in temperature control system. Temperatures in winter are not too cold and neither are they too hot in summer. This area is normally spared suffering destructive frosts in spring.
The vineyards stand next to the famed 'Coulée de Serrant' on South-West facing hillsides of predominately schist soils. Since her arrival Tessa has been improving every detail to be able to make more precise, transparent, complex wines. The results are spectacular and she is now one of the best examples of Roche-aux-Moines, and of course also Savennières. 2017 though was a tough vintage, as the Domaine aux Moines lost more than 70% of the crop to the April frost. After a warm, dry summer, allowing for disease-free season, harvest happened very quickly as sugars were rising really fast. Thankfully all the vineyards are surrounding the cellar, less than 10 min drive in tractor.
Everything was hand-harvested, pressed more carefully with a pneumatic press and champagne cycle as the skins were thick and could bring unwanted phenolic. Due to the yield and for not losing some barrels, all the wine was aged in barrel (Tessa has been changing a lot her barrels to work with light toast or vapor centered Atelier Centre France).