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Damien Laureau

Of all the Loire Valley regions that make wines from Chenin Blanc, Savennières is perhaps the most challenging. In part […]

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Damien Laureau

Of all the Loire Valley regions that make wines from Chenin Blanc, Savennières is perhaps the most challenging. In part due to the schistous terroir, but also because historically, growers in the region have tended to produce wines reductively. Until the last decade, most also harvested their grapes with a potential alcohol of 12º, picking them when they were still green in color. All of these practices resulted in backward, stern, and fairly austere wines that took at least a decade to reach a point where they began to show their charms. Many growers in the region still follow this very traditional method to produce Savennieres, and these wines once largely defined “typicity.” Recently, this trend has begun to change. Better farming, in many cases biodynamic or organic, reduced yields, hand-harvesting grapes that are golden in color, and backing away from reduction by using neutral wood barrels for aging and less sulfur during winemaking. These steps combine to produce more approachable wines that do not require aging or a rigorous intellectual understanding of the charms of Chenin grown on schist to enjoy them.

For these reasons, La Revue de Vin de France has singled out Damien Laureau as “Undoubtedly the future star of Savennieres.” Working out of a tiny shed, Damien Laureau is not exactly what one would call a “typical” Savennières winemaker. Fruit extracts and other non-synthetic treatments are used on the vines in place of harsh chemicals, and quite frankly, you can tell it just by looking at the vineyards. They feel alive, with wildlife and indigenous plants sharing the space with Damien’s healthy Chenin Blanc vines. Damien, along with a few other young growers, is starting to experiment with harvesting just when the grapes turn yellow (instead of the traditional Savennieres “green grapes”) to take advantage of the richness that the sun brings. At the same time, he is careful not to pick too late as he wants to avoid a high level of botrytis in the harvest. As a result, the wines are a beautiful balance of richness, concentration, lively acidity, and length. Yields are quite low (an average of 35 hl/ha is quite common, while most harvest at around 50 hl/ha.)


“Damien Laureau is one of the young stars in the schist-soil Savennières appellaton. Made from low yielding, partly very old vines and perfectly ripe and healthy, hand-picked grapes, his wines combine richness and natural concentration with freshness, finesse and and mineral tension.”

– Stephan Reinhardt
Loire, France
  • Location
    Loire, France
  • Primary Appellation
  • Proprietor
    Damien Laureau
  • Winemaker
    Damien Laureau
  • Size / Elevation
    8.5 hectares / 30-50 meters
  • Age of Vines
    10-50 years
  • Farming
    Certified organic
  • Varieties
    Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc
  • Cellar
    Hand harvested in successive passes, direct pressing, natural yeast fermentation in vat or barrel, each parcel vinified separately
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