Saumur is a beautiful, fortified medieval city on the Loire River’s southern bank, halfway between Tours and Angers, with a distinguished collection of castles built from the locally quarried white limestone tuffeau. Just south of Saumur, in the village of Varrains, tasting with Thierry Germain in his cellar reminds us of tasting in Burgundy: the barrels are a little larger, and the grape varieties are different, but the way he isolates each parcel and extracts its nuances into each of his cuvées is a thing of great beauty. An added bonus is the geological complexity of Saumur and Saumur-Champigny—far more diverse than Burgundy, it provides this vigneron/artist an expanded palette with which to paint his masterpieces. Thierry’s Saumurs honor the great Chenin Blanc grape. He vinifies them dry and never uses any new oak, highlighting the purity and minerality from each site. Each wine is a crystal-clear translation of the underlying terroir. Unique compared to the other great Loire Chenins—Savennières, Vouvray, Montlouis, Jasnières—Saumur is noble, elegant, vertical, and imposing. Thierry’s Cabernet Francs from Saumur Champigny are models of purity, finesse, and drinkability. Thierry is a pioneer of biodynamics in the Loire Valley. With incredibly pristine, vivid fruit along with a deep, rich structure and silky-fine tannins, Germain’s reds are grand examples of the heights biodynamic wines can achieve.
A quick guide to Thierry’s cuvées:
La Marginale Deep clay soils yield a profound, full-bodied Cabernet Franc with chewy fruit and good grip.
Clos de l’Echelier Both white and red from this celebrated vineyard, sitting on a plateau of tuffeau limestone, express high-toned fruit of great purity and focus, with a chalky, saline finish.
Les Mémoires Planted in 1904, this Cabernet Franc represents the domaine's oldest vines. Deeply rooted into tuffeau and silex, they produce a solidly structured wine with deep, smoky aromatics.
Franc de Pied Made from ungrafted vines that Thierry planted himself in Le Clos Bonnet, a sandy limestone parcel in Saumur. Whole cluster fermentation followed by 12 months in large foudre gives a silky and seductive rendition of Cabernet Franc.
Clos de l’Ecotard Young vines in this lieu-dit in the commune of Courchamps provide fresh Chenin fruit and lots of pleasure.
Le Clos du Moulin Ancient Chenin on sand, clay, and limestone makes for a rich, powerful, creamy white with excellent acidity.
Clos Romans A monopole in an ancient, walled-in clos dating back to the 9th century, Clos Romans shows off the stoniness, density, and fleshy fruit Chenin can achieve in top limestone terroirs.
Bulles de Roche Thierry’s Chenin-based méthode traditionnelle sparkler contains zero dosage, delivering pristine rich, golden fruit with total class.
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Few wines pair better with grilled foods than a savory, smoky expression of Syrah. Additionally, its characteristic spice and assertive flavor make it a great partner to many dishes in Indian, Pakistani, Persian, North African, and eastern Mediterranean cuisines, without forgetting its affinity to rustic French cooking.
Many of our best values, all in one place for your browsing pleasure: bargain whites, rosés, reds, and even a couple of sparklers, made by real people and reefer-shipped so they arrive in your hands in nothing less than perfect condition.
Her wonderfully complex terroir of schist, granite, and galets roulés (alluvial riverbed stones) produces some of the most ethereal rosés you’ll ever taste. And the olive oil—well, it isn’t easy for us to get as excited about olive oil as about wine, but when you taste these, you’ll understand why they have become Corsica’s pride and joy.
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