Octavin and Gahier tasting (4/4): Savagnins
Arbois 2011, Zest de Savagnin, Domaine de l’Octavin ($50.48, Les Importations du Moine, 6 bottles/case)
100% organically and biodyamically farmed Savagnin from 70-year-old vines grown in the Les Nouvelles vineyard. Macerated on the skins for three months, making this an orange wine, then matured in old barrels for around ten months. 12.9% ABV.
Complex nose of orange peel, floor wax, faint pine needles, sawed wood, peach and lemon, among other things. Smooth and round on the attack and surface though a strong acidic undercurrent quickly makes itself felt. Richly flavoured if a little monolithic for the now (of all the wines in the tasting, this is the one I most wished had been carafed), the fruit wrapped around a mineral core. Textured more like a red wine, with light tannins coming out on the long finish. Better balanced, more complete and fresher than many orange wines. Fascinating if a bit elemental; the future looks promising though. (Buy again? Gritting my teeth at the price but yes.)
Arbois 2005, Vin jaune, Domaine Michel Gahier ($71.00/620 ml, Primavin, NLA)
100% Savagnin. Matured sous voile (under a yeast veil) in old oak barrels for more than six years. 13.5% ABV.
Lightly oxidized nose of straw, apple and dried pear, developing nori and pastry notes as the wine breathes. A marvel in the mouth: so fresh and delicate yet also so present, focused and balanced. The fruit is pure, the acidity bracing. Threads of caramel, vanilla and nuts intertwine on the minutes-long finish. Obviously oxidized but not at all fino-like. Such a buoyant wine – each sip just carries you along. A synergistic match with 36-month-old Comté and walnut bread. In short, one of the best vin jaunes I’ve tasted and easily the most delicious. As remarkable as it is now, Gahier says it needs another ten to 20 years to develop fully. (Buy again? As nearly everyone at the tasting said: yes, price be damned.)