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Saumur Kind of Wonderful

Saumur Kind of Wonderful

by Tom Wolf by Tom Wolf

2022 Saumur Champigny “Cuvée Domaine”

2022 Saumur Champigny “Cuvée Domaine”

Domaine des Roches Neuves   

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Domaine des Roches Neuves    France   |  Loire   |  Saumur Champigny

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Thierry Germain is one of the Loire Valley’s most pensive and ever-experimenting vignerons. Whereas some winemakers who can be described this way produce eccentric cuvées, Thierry’s Cabernet Franc bottlings are incredibly pure, pretty, and refined. They demonstrate how Saumur Champigny is among the world’s very best terroirs, alongside Chinon and Bourgueil, when discussing red wines made from this grape variety.
     Thierry has honed his craft over decades to get to this point. After moving from his native Saint-Émilion to Saumur in the 1990s, he trained with the legendary Foucault brothers of Clos Rougeard. Then he set off on his own, spending years tweaking his farming approach and earning the respect of the locals, who were initially skeptical of an outsider from Bordeaux. He has pursued organic and biodynamic viticulture for more than a decade, and it shows in the freshness and purity of his wines. The 2022 vintage has its trademark elegance, with notes of blackberries, forest, and graphite.

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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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Vintage Chart

Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch

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