Clos de la Couleé de Serrant – Nicolas & Virginie Joly

Jacqueline wrote scathingly of Nicolas Joly in her “Wine and Food Guide to the Loire” many years ago, declaring that “if he (Nicolas) ever makes a Coulée de Serrant that lives up to its potential, it will be by accident”. Judging from the wines we’ve tasted, it would appear that accidents have been plentiful at the estate ever since she penned those words. The trend of accidentally great wines also looks set to continue as Virginie, Nicolas’ daughter, expands her role at this fabled estate.

It is embarrassingly easy to write of the greatness of the terroir, but triteness does not make it any less true – there is something special about the patch of land in the middle of Savennieres. Within the appellation, there are headier wines (e.g. from its neighbour Roche aux Moines, which typically ripens earlier and gets more botrytis), fruitier wines (e.g. from Clos du Papillon, which is always feminine) and even more minerally wines (e.g. from the easternmost butte, La Pierre Becherelle). But none of them match the Coulée de Serrant for the combination of intensity, elegance and complexity, dusted with a coating of je ne sais quoi. This is not to say that the other two wines, ‘Les Vieux Clos’ (where one can discern the Becherelle influence) and Clos de la Bergerie (a typical Roche aux Moines), are slouches; they are at the very top of the appellation.

The agriculture is biodynamic, and the vineyards are now in better shape than ever as the Jolys replant certain sections (massale, not clonal, selection, with Guy Bossard helping out with the grafting). In the cellar, Virginie’s influence has been obvious since 2008 – the wines are more feminine, and are less forbidding in their youth.