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. The ancient city disguises the plateau of tuffeau behind it that is scattered with its true treasure: Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc vines.
From the Chenin of Saumur, Thierry crafts this gorgeous sparkling wine with a distinctly rich and golden style, all natural, as it contains no added dosage. Contrary to the rash of bone-dry, high-acid brut zeros out there (which I also enjoy), this wine has decadently rich, honeyed fruit and a nice dollop of buttery brioche. It is good to have both options.
From ancient vines planted in yellow silex, Insolite is a sleek, spirited Chenin, bursting with energy and without an ounce of extra fat. If it were Burgundy, you might call it Puligny-esque. Thierry’s whites are the best I have ever had from the Saumur appellation, one with a noble history of producing age-worthy white wine of pedigree. On my first-ever trip to the region, a local grower opened a 1945 for me and Kermit, to celebrate the liberation of France by the US army. I’m sure I won’t hold this one quite that long, but it was an impressive introduction to what these wines are capable of.
Thierry’s style of Cabernet Franc emphasizes soaring red fruit aromatics, plush and silky textures, and racy acidity. Sounds pretty good, right? It isn’t your grandmother’s rustic, furry, tannic, bretty Cab Franc, that’s for sure. Biodynamic agriculture, no trimming of the vine shoots, early picking, and aging in large barrels are a few of his keys to success. Les Roches is Thierry’s entry-level Cab Franc for barbecues and general everyday gladness.
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