Domaine de l’Ermitage Menetou-Salon Clos Davet Blanc 2021


With a millennia of history behind it, the Clos Davet is a special wine that transcends many people’s idea of what Menetou, indeed Sauvignon, is capable of.






Sauvignon Blanc


Domaine de l'Ermitage & Antoine de la Farge






The story of this wine begins in the 11th century, when it is recorded that a local lord, Sarlon Le Riche, gearing up for a crusade and perhaps looking to atone for future sins, gave his best vines, the Clos de Davet, to the church, the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Sulpice-Lès-Bourges. As these are recorded as his best vines, we can assume the vineyard was already in production, so we are looking at over a millennia of continual viticulture. We visited the Clos last year, it is a serene place, silent but for bird song, it is wonderful to stand there and imagine the workers of the past following much the same rhythm as today, wondering about the thousands of hands which have shaped this land.

Today the Clos is a 3.92 monopole of Antoine’s Domaine de l’Ermitage and planted to 3/4 Sauvignon and the balance Pinot Noir. The walls that once surrounded it have mostly gone, but the Clos in its name is allowed to remain due to its history. Of course, we will never know what the wine produced one thousand year’s ago would taste like, but perhaps we can get a sense of why the site was so valued in the qualities of the 2021. It is of course produced from Sauvignon Blanc, 40-50 year old vines, growing in the vineyards shallow clay over kimmeridgien limestone. Antoine told us his favourite aspect of 2021 was its transparency- the quality of the vintage was the quality of the terroir. We can clearly see the additional intensity, concentration and complexity that this site gives even in a cooler year. For a wine with such long history, Antoine has thrown out tradition in the winery, where the wine is given 18 months in large ‘jars’, sandstone amphorae, which impart no flavour to the wine, but, Antoine says, allow the character of the Clos to shine and emphasise its salinity.

It has a beautiful nose, floral with a sense of waxy yellow fruits and a touch of the earth. On the palate it is juicy and crunchy, loaded with energy and potential, soaked with oyster shell minerality, and wonderfully textured, it finishes with a burst of apricot fruit and a long, saline finish. It is a match for almost any Sancerre I have tasted, yet has its own distinct character. It is testament to what a vineyard can give, transcending what most people would imagine Mentor-Salon is capable of producing. The only issue is that with just 1200 bottles produced, our allocation is small; just 120 bottles will come to the UK. It is a really special wine, I only wish we had a lot more.

About the Domaine

This small domaine in the heart of Menetou-Salon was created in 2003 by Laurence and Géraud de Farge. Laurence’s father Bernard was involved in setting up the Menetou-Salon appellation in 1959 and her passion for this land is obvious. They are now in the process of handing over to their son, Antoine.

With just 10 hectares of vines they know every inch of their vineyards and harvest by hand, unusual in these parts. The soils, like Sancerre, are limestone and clay, ideally suited to both Sauvignon Blanc, which makes up 80% of their vines, and Pinot Noir. Yields and quality are controlled by de-budding and careful sorting prior to vinification.

Antoine de la Farge is an ambitious young man and a skilful wine maker. As well as taking over from his parents at Domaine de l’Ermitage in Menetou Salon he has developed a range of wines under his own name, designed to showcase the grapes and appellations of the Eastern Loire. These wines are produced on a small scale and with great care – Antoine works with growers his family have known for years, everything is picked by hand and fermentations happen naturally. The wines are made in stainless steel to emphasise their purity and freshness.


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