Wine Talk

Snooth User: Cathy Shore

Domaine aux Moines - Savennières

Posted by Cathy Shore, Mar 13, 2010.

We spend the morning yesterday at Domaine aux Moines in Savennières with some guests from Houston, Texas and enjoyed a very interesting vertical tasting with Mme Laroche.  As you know, the Loire valley is a huge winemaking region and many winemakers in Anjou produce a whole plethora of wines making the tasting proposition a confusing one.  Tasting just one wine from a range of different vintages is sometimes a much better way of understanding what makes one appellation different from another. 

Pruning at the domaine is just over.  Due to the very cold spell we have had here since Christmas, the vines are well behind schedule which is good news as this will have the effect of delaying budburst and in turn offer more protection against late frosts that can make or break yield in this cool climate region.  They are pruned leaving two small canes on either side with just 2 or 3 buds (or nodes) on each side and no spurs to provide a back up in the event of frost or to provide for the following year.  The young vines (15 years old), have been left with one short cane and one long cane.  This, explains Mme Laroche is to 'tire out' the vines.  The long cane will be left in place until June when it will be cut off.  The prunings and all taken out of the vineyard and burnt to avoid spreading the risk of esca which is a problem in the Loire valley.  In addition,  vines that are suffering from esca are pruned last and with different secateurs to avoid cross contamination. 

This disease has no cure so is a real and persistent problem for vinegrowers in the Loire valley.  In the past, there was a noxious chemical formula that dealt with it but this has since been banned and no natural product has been developed since. 

To the wines - we tried a range of vintages of the Domaine aux Moines, Savennières-Roches-aux-Moines.  This sub-appellation of Savennières covers an area of 33 hectares although Mme Laroche tells us that only 15-17 hectares are actually under vine.


Pale golden colour with honeysuckle and white flowers on the nose. A real grapefruit element on the palate with acidity not too dominant.  Warm and long on the palate.  A great match for white meats.  Not strikingly mineral for a Savennières but think this element will development over time.


Pale golden colour, a little richer looking than the 2004.  This was a fatter vintage and has a maturity on the nose that it not normally this developed in a wine of this age.  Less floral and more waxy lanolin notes.  Lighter and softer on the palate and softer on the finish.  This has a bigger mouthfeel than the 04 and would make a good match to fish with a creamy sauce.


Tiny yields during this vintage due to frost (17hl/ha).  This wine is slightly paler in colour and has striking primary pear fruit on the nose.  On the palate a great rush of wonderful acidity backs it up.  Going to have a problem keeping this one in the cellar because it's delicious now but one can see it has huge ageing potential.  Would be perfect with a young goat's cheese or platter of fruits de mers. 


The colour has moved to a rich golden colour.  Wonderful honey, nuts and acacia aromas on the nose.  Rich and hazlenutty on the palate with a wild honey note carrying through right to the end.  The finish is rich and a little mineral.  Exotic and interesting - would be good with something spicey not hot.


Rich deep golden colour.  Incredible earthy spicey notes on the nose with lots of wild honey, white flowers and a hint of saffron.  On the palate the saffron note is completely dominant and delicious.  A perfumed medicinal note with almonds, dried fruits and spices.  Absolutely delicious and long on the finish, more so than the 2000.  This would be wonderful with a saffron risotto, wild mushroom risotto or even a tagine.  The wine is big enough to take on a meat dish and Mme Laroche says it also goes well with asparagus (tricky one to match) and truffles. This was a very tricky vintage and there were 7 passes through the vineyard.

A very informative and enlightening tasting that really illustrated vintage variation.  How one grape variety can produce wines from one terroir that are so different and yet so equally pleasing is one of life's mysteries and pleasures.

For the record, we bough half a dozen of the 2008 and half of dozen of the 1992 - from one extreme to another.












Reply by dmcker, Mar 13, 2010.

Thank you very much for these notes, Cathy. You immediately had me envious but also salivating (hey, I can do two things at once...). We don't really, on balance, see enough on excellent whites here in this forum, and the wines you talk about really are special.

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 13, 2010.

Great reviews; my compliments.  I look forward to seeing how the Spring and Summer pan out in the Val de Loire. 

Reply by penguinoid, Mar 13, 2010.

Thanks for the notes, all really interesting. Out of interest, have you tried the 1991 vintage at all?

Reply by Cathy Shore, Mar 14, 2010.

Thanks for the kind comments dmcker, zufrieden and penguinoid.

No I haven't tried the 1991 - have you?

One point I forgot to mention that is of interest.  There is a current initiative among some of the producers within the Roches-aux-Moines appellation to reduce the yield permitted under the AC regs to increase quality.  At the moment 50hl/ha is permitted but there is talk of reducing it to 35 - 40 hl/ha.  Mme Laroche is in favour of it dropping to 35hl/ha.  Thought you might be interested.

Wishing everyone a good Sunday.




Reply by penguinoid, Mar 14, 2010.

I've only tried the 1995. I'm asking as the same seller as I got the 1995 off now has the 1991. I've read it isn't as good a vintage as the 1995, but it'd be interesting to try more than the one vintage of this wine.

Interesting that they're thinking of reducing permitted yields. I assume more quality focussed producers such as Domaine aux Moines would already be producing yields closer to 35hl/ha anyway, wouldn't they?

Reply by Cathy Shore, Mar 14, 2010.

Yes, quality producers are often way below the 50 limit.  And of course frost reduces it naturally as it did in 2008 (17ha/ha).  The problem is that not every producer is 100% quality motivated especially in years such as 2009.  To clarify - 2008 saw late frosts which severely cut yields back to tiny levels 17 or even less.  2009 however had no such problems and loads of healthy ripe fruit with no disease was picked.  Here is the dilemma - do producers limit what they produce to ensure there is no compromise on quality or - do they make the maximum permitted to make up for the shortfall from the year before?  It's a tricky one.  Our producer in the Layon was very sceptical about other producers doing exactly that  to make up for the financial loss the year before.

Reply by penguinoid, Mar 15, 2010.

True, I guess the temptation to make a quick, short term profit could become quite strong, especially after a bad year. Lowering the permitted yields might well be a good move then, in the long run.

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