Damien Laureau comes from a cereal farming family near Versailles, but made the switch into grape-growing just over ten years ago when he acquired some land in Savennières. Walking around his various vineyards (including a new plot just above the village of La Poissonnière which we are very excited about), one wonders if farming ability is somehow transferable across generations and crops. The soil is clean-smelling, moist and well-aerated, crumbling just so in the hand to reveal tiny tendrils of other plants, worms and various insects. The bio-diversity of his land is astonishing, which Damien believes is essential to the health of his vines and therefore the quality of his wines.
All that work would be wasted if the élevage was sloppy, but Damien is just as careful in the cellar as he is in the vineyard. Grapes are manually harvested from each plot and vinified separately in a spick and span cellar he has just moved into. He doesn’t ‘force’ the wines, preferring to let them have time to ferment dry and find their own equilibrium. As a result, the three wines he makes are distinct yet related expressions of the Savennières terroir. The Les Genêts is meant to be drunk fairly young, but it ages well for up to a decade even in poorer vintages; his Roche aux Moines is ripe and fleshy, as befits the warm vineyard, and the Bel Ouvrage is always outstanding – a broad-shouldered, muscular wine with a real streak of minerality. All three wines are superbly structured, and will benefit from bottle aging or a short decant in their first five years.