This is a special wine, albeit low key, for a Valentine's Day dinner of crab cakes, farfalle with shrimp and pesto and roasted asparagus. Lovely wine, lovely meal.
The intensity of Loire Sauvignon Blanc was apparent from the first sniff--floral, mineral, lemon meringue, gooseberry, white peach. I love Sancerre and always enjoy Etienne Daulny's regular bottling. But the Clos de Chaudenay is special for its rich, complex palate presence. Creamy fruit in the middle with racy fingers of Sauvignon Blanc reaching out to the edges of the tongue. The finish is long and satisfying. Especially for a special occasion, it's hard to quit drinking this wine until the bottle is empty. Mmmmmmmmmm.
Etienne Daulny has many parcels of old, low yielding vines among his 37 acres, but Clos de Chaudenay is the only one he singles out for a special bottling. The name translates literally as "hot spot" but in this area that means that the southwest facing slope gets plenty of sun. Vines average 40 years and the yield is three tons an acre (compared to 3.4 tons/acre overall for Domaine Daulny). Many of the special qualities of this wine come from the handling. While aging is mostly in stainless steel (as in the regular bottling), a small percentage goes for a period into large old oak barrels--well seasoned so that they no longer impart oaky smells or flavors but add texture, body and complexity.
Clos de Chaudenay costs only a dollar more than the regular bottling ($18.99 versus $17.99 at Village Corner in Ann Arbor, MI). Both are excellent and generally less expensive than most Sancerres on the market.