closel_verre.jpgSavennieres. It’s not a wine that you hear about everyday. This little area in the Loire Valley produces some of the greatest wines from the Chenin Blanc grape. But likely due to its small size (both geographically and in terms of producers) and the lack of hype surrounding the Chenin Blanc grape, it easily falls under the radar for most wine enthusiasts. But those who happen across a Savennieres quickly champion the cause. Maybe it’s the complexity and concentration of the flavors or just a pleasant departure from the more common oakey and fruity wines, but once you get to know Savennieres you find yourself seeking them out with a persistence typically reserved for those long lines outside Shake Shack or a table at Pearl Oyster Bar (and yes, Savennieres goes great with the lobster roll).

So if these wines are so great, then why haven’t we heard more about them? There are certainly other small areas with tiny production that are world famous. But perhaps the qualities that make them so enjoyable have something to do with why they have not become a household name. As we began tasting these wines, what initially was shock to the palate in terms of the flavor and style developed into a refreshingly different and exciting change of pace. Savennieres is a far departure from heavy, oak laden chardonnays and doesn't have the bright fruit notes of a Riesling or a juicy Sauvignon Blanc – in fact, it tends to exhibit the opposite of most of the characteristics that make white wines so popular here. It has striking acidity, notes of minerality and lanolin (yes, a little like the lotion) and is typically bone dry. But it also has a full, lush body and texture to cushion the intensity of flavors. It’s a wine that you may not love at first sip, but by the third it’s too late, you have now committed yourself to a lifetime affair with the elusive, difficult and the hard to find.

Luckily, we live in New York City and you can get anything from obscure Chinese fruits to bootleg Baywatch videos, so locating a good Savennieres is tricky, but not impossible (we bought our last bottle from Union Square Wine and Spirits). Here are two that are worth seeking out…

Domaine du Closel La Jalousie, 2004 Savennieres, France: Around $18
Toasty butter and nutty notes on the nose. Rich body and flavors of almond, marzipan and ripe yellow apple on the palate.

Damien Laureau Les Genets 2002, Savennieres, France: Around $26
Honey, floral and apricot notes on the nose. The palate mirrors the nose with concentrated flavors of apricots and pears, with vibrant acidity and a full body.

If you haven’t tried Savennieres yet, this could be a good time to start. You may have to work a little harder to get it, but so what. If we wanted easy, we’d move to Chicago.