Robert Parker 92
"Baumard's "regular" (a.k.a. Clos St.-Yves) 2008 Savennieres bursts from the glass in an exuberant bouquet of buddleia and apple blossom; quince and intimations of wet stone. This transcends the poise and clarity exhibited by several immediately preceding Clos du Papillon bottlings and suggests that chronologically speaking we have moved up into a new echelon of expressiveness. The bitter, piquant notes of toasted nut, quinine, white pepper, and fruit pit here are extremely subtle and integrated into a matrix of lusciously juicy pear, white peach, and quince. A salvia-inducing salinity and scallop-like sweetness ally themselves to the stony mineral elements in this wines long finishing colloquy with flowers and fruits, and there is a levity and refreshment a sheer drinkability that I have not noticed in previous Baumard Savennieres particularly pre-2007. Yet there is still ample sense of glycerin-richness and subtle oiliness. The combination of roughly a half percent less alcohol and more expressive acidity renders this drier-tasting than its 2006 and 2007 counterparts. Florent Baumard admits that a lesser percentage of his 2008s went through malo-lactic transformation than in most vintages, though I did not have chance to check precise analytical data on that. This sensational value is a delight to drink now. Whether it will suffer on that account a reduced life span must remain to be seen, although if anything my intuition is that this will be lovely for a decade, but that you would be foolish to deprive yourself of its short-term pleasure.
I finally had the pleasure to taste personally with Florent Baumard (for more about whose domaine and methods, consult my report in issue 172) and found him a disarmingly astute critic of his own wines whose confidence I share that the best is yet to come from this vast and already justly renowned estate. I find a freedom from bitter or coarse elements and a clarity of flavors in the more recent wines that is welcome and which, when pressed, Florent Baumard suggests might in part be attributable to increasingly selective and watchful (though not necessarily gentler) pressing. The envelope-pushing here is evident in the quality of Baumard's relatively high-volume sparking wines, rendered from blends unfamiliar outside of the Loire. The wines I tasted five years ago were good, but only modestly-recommendable (and I elected not to publish notes on them in issue 172). The lot numbers of Baumard non-vintage sparkling wines appear on the front label in very tiny, faint letters under the words sparkling wine, but cannot be read without good eyesight, and not if the bottle is wet! The Baumards' "regular" bottling of Savennieres is from their Clos St. Yves vineyard between the Clos du Papillon and Roche aux Moines, and a fact of which I was not aware when I published my notes in issue 172 is that two different labels are used interchangeably, one of which indicates the vineyard name."
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