2018 Saumur-Champigny from Domaine des Roches NeuvesMonday, August 12
As Bordeaux specialists, we have a soft spot for the delicious, elegant Cabernet Franc-based reds from Saumur-Champigny in the Loire. In Bordeaux, this variety is used to add elegance and aroma. Our notes from the en primeur tastings earlier this year are laden with references to its characteristic violet and graphite aromas (one might say, it's the variety which puts the lead in Bordeaux's 'pencil' aromas).
Grown on 'tuffeau' limestone soils in cooler Saumur-Champigny, Cabernet Franc has softer tannins and so, like Beaujolais, it works beautifully served lightly chilled; a superb summer wine. But if this suggests a lack of seriousness, think again. In the hands of a winemaker like Thierry Germain of Domaine des Roches Neuves, it can achieve dizzying heights.
Like the grape variety he works with, Thierry grew up in Bordeaux, but set off for the Loire at the age of 23 to make his own name as a winemaker. Two decades later he has winemaking 'guru' status. One of France's leading biodynamic winemakers, his wines achieve higher scores with each vintage. Roches Neuves is now second only to Saumur's 'cult' domaine, Clos Rougeard (bought in 2017 by the Bouygues brothers, owners of Château Montrose in St-Estèphe). It is worth remarking that Thierry's wines vie with those of Clos Rougeard in terms of scores, but are a fraction of the price (multiply the prices below by six to eight times!).
Thierry produces a number of cuvées, from the simple but delicious 'vin de domaines', which we have offered for some time, to 'Les Memoires', from century-old vines.
Working biodynamically, the entire estate is hand-harvested and Thierry uses indigenous yeasts to ferment in a mixture of stainless steel, large wooden vats and three year-old barriques, bought from Méo-Camuzet in Vosne-Romanée. All of the wines emphasize the silky textural elegance which Cabernet Franc is capable of. 2018 was a superb vintage in Saumur and the wines show richness and concentration from the warm summer, but still retain their freshness.
The wines below show world class winemaking skills and the value they offer is astonishing. Why not expand your drinking repertoire and order the domaine wine now for summer drinking (immediately available, equivalent to just £14.67 per bottle inc VAT).
For longer term cellaring, Terres Chaudes, Franc de Pied, Clos Les Echeliers and Les Memoires are all offered en primeur, landing at the end of this year.