Famille Joly 2020 'Clos de la Bergerie' Savennieres Roche aux Moines, Loire Valley, France
Famille Joly is widely known as one of the greatest biodynamic wine producers in France, embodying the intersection of well-respected history and refined technique. The estate is owned by the Joly family, led by Nicolas Joly, and aims to express the natural balance and beauty of the Loire Valley Chenin Blanc vineyards with respect and minimal intervention.
Winemaker: Nicolas Joly
Grape Varieties: 100% Chenin Blanc
Terroir / Soil: Clos de la Bergerie provides a unique interpretation of the site, taking in the moderating and gentle east-facing slopes of AOC Savennières Roche aux Moines. The Joly family owns 3.5 hectares of the appellation. The vineyard comprises the same soil composition as Coulée de Serrant, schist, and quartz, but with deeper soil and milder slopes, allowing the maturity to peak just slightly later. A rich and powerful wine set to stand the test of time.
Winemaking: 3-5% botrytis-affected grapes included. No settling, no temperature control during fermentation, 100% indigenous yeasts, no fining. 100% Malolactic.
Aging: 6-8 months in old oak barrels
Tasting Notes: Yeasty, flinty, rich, this dry wine can stand the test of time. Ginger, apricot, crushed rock, and marigold intertwine with a tension-filled mid-palate.
From our July 2022 Q3 Serious Inquiries Only Club Notes:
Nicolas Joly Familie | Clos de la Bergerie Chenin Blanc
Savennieres, Loire Valley, France | 2020
Nicolas Joly quite literally wrote the book on modern biodynamic winemaking, which I read 15 years ago as a budding sommelier. In Biodynamic Wine Demystified, he shares his core philosophies: wine is made in the vineyard, which itself is a self-perpetuating biodiverse ecological system that can sustain itself when spared from chemical substances and nutrient-depleting monoculture. It took a man who left his family’s historic farm for the hustle of investment banking in New York and London and subsequently returned to take over, to see that perhaps the super efficiency of profit-motivated agriculture wasn’t all its cracked up to be. Maybe it’s not about better living through chemistry but better wine with minimal intervention. Maybe we need to listen to the earth, the influence of the moon, the stars, and the animals on the land.
For centuries, this land was farmed without modern chemical advances. Cistercian monks first planted this land in the 12th century, and in 2020, the vineyards celebrated their 890th anniversary. King Louis XI referred to the wines from this site as “drops of gold”. Empress Joséphine wrote of her love for the wines. There was never an ounce of foreign chemicals in these vineyards. In 1977, when Nicolas took over his family estate of Château de la Roche-Aux-Moines, he quickly saw that status quo practices were no longer acceptable on this historic property. He began experimenting with biodynamics and since 1984, he has farmed everything biodynamically.
Clos de la Bergerie is a unique plot on the gently sloping fields of Savennières-Roche-Aux-Moines, one of the Loire Valley’s premier regions for dry Chenin Blanc. The vines are, on average, 40 years old, and everything is pruned, picked, and made in adherence to biodynamic principles. No temperature control is used in the cellars, only allowing spontaneous fermentation with ambient yeasts, no fining, and aging in neutral oak barrels. This Chenin Blanc can last the test of time, with notes of lanolin or sheep’s wool, bruised yellow apples, and a crystalline minerality tied together with nervy acidity and a long finish. —Cara Patricia