Blog: Producer Newsletters

  • A New Star in Savennieres!

    December 12th, 2012

     
    A New Star in Savennieres!
    Clement Baraut, Savennieres, Central Loire Valley
     
     
     
    Clement Baraut
     
     
     As usual, when I go to Paris, I make the rounds at the natural wine shops to see what’s new. On a recent trip, I found Clément Baraut’s Savennières on the shelf, grabbed some bottles to try with my family and found myself meeting with Baraut three days later on an already planned trip to the Loire.
    Savennières often takes a back seat to Vouvray but this appellation is every bit as capable of producing world class Chenin Blanc. No one knows this better than Clément Baraut.
     

     

     The AOC Savennieres is located right next to the city of Angers
     
      
     
    You might think that Baraut was born and raised in the Loire but he didn’t arrive until 1989 by way of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Paris, where he was born. After studying enology in Bordeaux, he worked as the assistant winemaker at the first growth, Château Haut-Brion. An early believer in natural winemaking, Baraut set his sights elsewhere and when he was hired to do some consulting work in the Loire, made Anjou his home. “I was a great believer (and I am still yet) that wine is made in vineyard not in cellar…. not a very-‘bordelaise’ or oenologist idea.”
     
    Perhaps that explains things.

     

     

    3 AOCs: Savennieres, Savennieres Couleee de Serrant and Savennieres Roche aux Moines
     
     

     

    The gods must have must have been very happy with Baraut’s decision as they greeted him with two excellent vintages to work with, 1989 and 1990. While legendary wines were born in these years, there were largely sweeter wine vintages for the Loire. Savennières, which is always dry, still fared very well.
     
     Village of Savennieres

     

     
    While Baraut began making his own wine in 1989, his first stint as a grape-winegrower was from the 1994-1998 period. During that time, several producers throughout France were experimenting with biodynamic winemaking . The most famous was Nicolas Joly of Coulée de Serrant, an AOC within the Savennières AOC. These efforts and their successes influenced many and by 1997 Baraut, who already employed many of the tenets of natural winemaking, made a name for himself as a vineyard and wine consultant specializing in what he calls “biological culture.”
     
     
     
    Pitrouillet vineyard in AOC Savennieres
     
     
    Since the late 90’s, Baraut has worked predominantly as a consultant for several of the most esteemed producers in Savennières including Domaine Closel, Patrick Baudouin and Domaine de Rochambeau. In this time, he has become an authority on the terroir of Savennières as well as an expert natural winemaker.

     

    Slate everywhere in the Pitrouillet vineyard
     
     
    In 2008 he purchased two hectares (about five acres) in Savennières, in the prized sub-appellation Savennières ‘Roche aux Moines’ and in the neighboring AOC of Bonnezeaux. Demeter certified since his first vintage in 2010, he farms the land according to biodynamic principles. Soils are ploughed and grass grows naturally in between rows. He is meticulous about grape selection and picks when the grapes are mature but do not have any signs of rot. All harvest is done by hand. He uses natural yeast and does not chaptalize. The dry wines undergo primary and malolactic fermentation in neutral Burgundy barrels while glass demijohns are used for the sweeter wines. Minimal SO2 is added a bottling.
      
     
    During Caravan 2012 last may, our annual buyer trip of France & Italy
     
     
    Beginning in 2012, Baraut is making a red wine from the indigenous Grolleau grape. 
     
      

    Clément Baraut, Savennières “Pitrouillet” 2011 
    100% Chenin Blanc
    700 cases made
    Baraut makes this wine from a 32-year-old vineyard that he purchased from Nicolas Joly in 2009. With lime and sandy soil on top of  slate, this is typical Savennières terroir, making the wine an even better example for those who are new to the appellation. Savennières has more weight than Vouvray, and Baraut’s Pitrouillet, which is rich yet has vibrant acidity, is emblematic of this quality. Floral and minerally on the nose with tangerine, green apple, almond water and a hint of chamomile tea, it is luscious.
     
     
     Perfect pairing with winter squash soup…
     
     
     
     
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