Damien Laureau (1999)

Damien Laureau was born in Versailles to a family of cereal farmers. However, his older brother was destined to take charge of the family farm, so Damien decided to move to Angers and work for his uncle, Jean-Louis Laureau, who owns pear orchards in Frémur and a vineyard in Ste-Gemme-sur-Loire. Together they created a small domaine in the mid 1990s making simple Anjou Rouge and Blanc. It was from here that Damien’s interest in wine began. He believes it was fate that bought him to Anjou, and he remains essentially a self-taught vigneron. In 1999, Laureau had the opportunity to rent a 5.5ha parcel in the Moulin de Beaupréau from Madame De Vaulchier, after the previous occupant went bankrupt. He added to his holdings in Savennières in 2007 renting a quarter hectare in La Roche aux Moines and a further 1.3 hectares in ‘Chambourcier’, a parcel on the plateau of Epiré bought from the Soulez family. Also in 2007, Damien left Frémur, purchasing the cellar erected by Emile Benon in Epiré in 1994. In 2010, he took over the vineyard of 'Le Clos des Petites Coulées' from Danielle and Jean-Louis Robin.

Wine Overview:  
Laureau makes two expressions of Savennières. Until now, both have come off the same, single parcel. ‘Les Genêts’ is raised in fibre glass tanks for 18 months and has around one-third of the malolactic fermentation completed, whilst ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’ is aged for one year in fibreglass but also spends a further year in 300 and 500 litre barrels, some sourced from Château d’Yquem. For the 2007 harvest, he conducted a detailed experiment by separating out the two soil components for the two different cuvées. Although passing through the vines two or three times is quite normal in the appellation, selecting grapes based on the soil type offers a different proposition. The lighter sandier cuvettes were selected for ‘Les Genêts’, whilst those vines on the more serious clay and exposed schist were harvested for ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’. The complexity of the exercise was compounded by there being different picking dates for each of the two cuvées, with a second passage of botrytised berries being harvested for ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’. Laureau says the experiment was not as complicated as it sounds, as it was easy to determine the vines grown on clay by the premature yellowing leaves. As regards the first crop off ‘Chambourcier’ and La Roche aux Moines (the equivalent of one and a half barrels), these have both been blended into ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’ for this first vintage.

The Wines:  
Despite being self taught, the very friendly and likeable Damien Laureau has clearly worked his apprenticeship here, and after ten years of being active in Savennières is now carving out some of the appellations best wines. Laureau is a grower to follow for the future.  

2008 ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’  
Polished yellow appearance. Complex nose, with some oak showing with some positive high-toned character. Attractive and appealing. Rich on entry. Authentic with excellent focus. Crisp and clean but with weight and structure to match. Still youthful and a little unresolved. Needs time but very promising. (02/11)

2007 ‘Les Genêts’  
15 year old vines. 17hl/ha. 14.3% alcohol. Soft, open and attractive nose. Quite floral and a bit facile at this stage in its evolution. Correct and approachable, if a little restrained. Good structure on entry. Tight and mineral with good balancing acidity. Decent length and structure. Would benefit with a couple more years in bottle. (02/10) 

2005 ‘Les Genêts’  
Bright. Pale straw. Clean, oatmeal and cereal nose. Gentle with a hint if honey behind. Delicate, open and attractive palate. Serious, taut and stony with lemon/citrus acidity. Very mineral and elegant style. Drinking well now, but will hold and continue to evolve. Very good. (02/08)

2005 ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’  
Pale straw with green hints. Smoky, even meaty. Delicate. The wood shows a little. Restrained nose, but shows promise. The palate is more open. Fresh and lively with great intensity, but with balance and poise. Linear. The wood only adds to the texture, complexity and weight. Still very youthful and needs time. Infanticide to drink now. Great potential. (02/08)

2004 ‘Les Genêts’  
Pale straw appearance. Open and attractive nose. Broader than the 2005. Some white flowers suggesting maturity, although still shows freshness. Gentle on entry. Good freshness with balancing mid palate richness. Very stony and linear finish. Taut acidity but good flesh. Still very youthful although approachable. This would benefit from a couple more years in bottle. (02/08)

2004 ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’  
Mid-pale. Straw appearance. Delicate but rounded. Quite closed, but shows quality. The palate is more expressive, building well. Very good density, texture and complexity with a mineral edge to the acidity. This is still very youthful but shows real class. (02/08)

2003 ‘Les Genêts’  
Polished. Straw appearance with green hints. Broad and floral nose with white flowers suggesting advanced maturity. Broad and rich on the palate with some evidence of residual sugar. Fat and quite flabby, showing the alcohol. Short on the finish and lacks freshness and acidity. Drink now. Unlikely to improve. (02/08)

2003 ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’  
Bright. Mid-pale. Straw yellow appearance. Broad, waxy, lanolin nose with some coconut, although currently not very expressive. The palate is much better with good balance and not over ripe. The wood shows a little, and there are some tannins which help to add to the texture. This is a serious wine; approachable now but should age further. (02/08)

2002 ‘Les Genêts’  
Polished. Mid-depth with some green hints. Delicate but advanced nose. Quite floral with some terpine character. Appears quite ripe and sweet on the palate; more Riesling than Chenin in its flavours profile. The acidity to shows to the finish. Less proficient. Drink now. (02/08)

2002 ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’  
Mid full, yellow/gold. Broad nose showing some maturity. Some oxidation and dry on the entry. Broad, low acid and advanced. A bit flat and one dimensional with more signs of oxidation on the palate. The wine is loosing its fruit and the acid is starting to dry out the wine. A touch phenolic on the finish. Drink up. (02/08)

2001 ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’  
Polished. Mid-depth. Straw/yellow. Advanced nose of white flowers and terpine. Showing signs of maturity, although still attractive. Ripe on entry. Shows a hint of sweetness. This is a riper style. Good acidity although it stands apart from the wine. Chalky texture with some terpines to the end of the palate with a faint bitterness. This is starting to dry out.  Drink up. (02/08)

2000 ‘Les Genêts’  
Pale straw appearance. Reduction shows on the nose, although attractive in its own flinty, mineral way. Dry, steely, mineral and taut palate. Long and linear. This is quite lean and doesn’t show much flesh, although structurally it is very sound. Floral and a touch herbal. Very good length and could evolve further should the reductive elements blow off. (02/08)

2000 ‘Le Bel Ouvrage’  
Youthful green appearance. Mid-depth. This is more advanced than ‘Les Genêts’ but is classic Chenin. Slightly old fashioned Savennières in style. Floral, but with an authentic austere edge to the palate. This is ripe, but shows good linear acidity, although some terpine flavours suggest this is just going over the top of maturity. Drinking now. Best drink up. (02/08)

1999 ‘Les Genêts’  
Polished. Mid-depth, yellow. Mature nose with some oxidation showing. Orange skin and a bit musty. Unfortunately going downhill fast. Still quite lively and fresh on the palate, but with more mouldy orange skin flavours. The fruit has faded and the acid carries the wine. Dried out on the finish. Short with a chalky, phenolic edge. Past its best. (02/08)

Damien Laureau   
Chemin du Grand Hamé  
Epiré Epiré  

T: +33
9 64 37 02 57 (bureau)
T: +33 2 41 72 25 54
F: +33 2 41 72 87 39  




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