Savennières, Le Clos du Papillon, Domaine des Forges 2020
Intense herbal nose with some toasty elements, then a mouthfilling, concentrated and savoury palate with great weight and minerality. This is bone dry, and a serious incarnation of the Chenin Blanc variety.
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Domaine des Forges
Domaine des Forges is excellent family-owned and run domaine that is now in the hands of the fifth generation of the Branchereau family.
This superb domaine was founded back in 1890 by Pierre Robineau, a local greengrocer, who purchased two hectares of vineyards. One of the parcels was called Clos des Forges which later gave its name to the whole domaine. His granddaughter, Hélène, married René Branchereau and by 1945 they had expanded the holdings to seven hectares. Their son Claude further expanded the vineyards and was joined in turn in 1996 by his son Stéphane the current incumbent. Claude is still around helping, but it is Stéphane and his wife Séverine who run things now. Their holding now extends to 47 ha, including vineyards in Quarts de Chaume and Savennières. The farming is very hands on, and the wines are made in a modernised winery with up-to-date equipment. All picking of Chenin Blanc is done by ‘tris’ to ensure optimum ripeness, and yields rarely exceed 25 hl/ ha. He also filters his sweet wines after fermentation which hugely reduces the amount of sulphur necessary in the wines. Stéphane Branchereau is an unassuming sort of fellow but is increasingly making his mark on the region, including helping Chaume and Quarts de Chaume gain premier and grand cru status respectively. These are special enclaves within the Coteaux du Layon appellation. The practices in the winery are very traditional with a mix of tanks and oak barrels. They produce all styles of wine from the region.