Joelle Papin-Chevalier and her son Rene make benchmark Anjou in Beaulieu-sur-Layon, west of Angers. They make three sensational Savennieres (certainly one of the Loire’s finest appellations for Chenin Blanc). In red they make Anjou Villages from two different soils; “Spilite” is grown on volcanic soil; Clos de Coulaine (part of the famous Savennieres vineyard) is on silty-sandy soil over sandstone and schist. The grape is Cabernet Franc. Their wines age magnificently. We recently had a 1995 of their Clos de Coulaine and a 1999 of Spilite. Both were still fresh with plenty of life ahead of them. If you can bear to hide a couple of bottles away for 10-20 years, you won’t be disappointed. Or just drink them now – in which case it might be worth putting them in a decanter for an hour before drinking.
We should just mention their sweet wines – they are on the Layon, after all! The Layon is a tributary of the Loire which traps moisture and mist in autumn – a breeding ground for botrytis; the noble rot. In the right hands (the Papin-Chevaliers for example), late-harvested, botrytised Chenin Blanc makes magical sweet wines.
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