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2020 Saumur-Champigny “Les Mémoires”

Thierry Germain
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The 2020 vintage was excellent for Cabernet Franc. The long, warm growing season was mostly drama-free, the resulting fruit ripe and abundant. This bottling is sourced from a small parcel of 110+-year-old vines, a good portion of which are ungrafted, and as you’d expect from well-tended old vines in a strong vintage, the wine is dense with promise. The fruit is very fine, almost silky, with intense minerality on the finish. Upon opening, it was quite closed but showed its potential the following day. Patience is needed—and will be rewarded.

Dustin Soiseth

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Technical Information
Wine Type: red
Vintage: 2020
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Cabernet Franc
Appellation: Saumur-Champigny
Country: France
Region: Loire
Producer: Thierry Germain
Winemaker: Thierry Germain
Vineyard: 112 years, .8 ha
Soil: Silex Scree, Turonien Supérieur Limestone
Aging: Aged in 2500L foudre for 12 months
Farming: Biodynamic (certified)
Alcohol: 13.5%

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About The Region

Loire

map of Loire

The defining feature of the Loire Valley, not surprisingly, is the Loire River. As the longest river in France, spanning more than 600 miles, this river connects seemingly disparate wine regions. Why else would Sancerre, with its Kimmeridgian limestone terroir be connected to Muscadet, an appellation that is 250 miles away?

Secondary in relevance to the historical, climatic, environmental, and cultural importance of the river are the wines and châteaux of the Jardin de la France. The kings and nobility of France built many hundreds of châteaux in the Loire but wine preceded the arrival of the noblesse and has since out-lived them as well.

Diversity abounds in the Loire. The aforementioned Kimmderidgian limestone of Sancerre is also found in Chablis. Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur boast the presence of tuffeau, a type of limestone unique to the Loire that has a yellowish tinge and a chalky texture. Savennières has schist, while Muscadet has volcanic, granite, and serpentinite based soils. In addition to geologic diversity, many, grape varieties are grown there too: Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne are most prevalent, but (to name a few) Pinot Gris, Grolleau, Pinot Noir, Pineau d’Aunis, and Folle Blanche are also planted. These myriad of viticultural influences leads to the high quality production of every type of wine: red, white, rosé, sparkling, and dessert.

Like the Rhône and Provence, some of Kermit’s first imports came from the Loire, most notably the wines of Charles Joguet and Château d’Epiré—two producers who are featured in Kermit’s book Adventures on the Wine Route and with whom we still work today.

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Where the newsletter started

Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch

Read the whole story

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