Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Warm, intense and with super ripe yet refined and precise dark fruit, spicy toast and flint aromas open the 2019 Saumur Champigny Franc de Pied, which comes from a huge layer of sandy soil that has been planted at a high density of 10,000 vines per hectare. Fermented with whole clusters, the fruit is generous and elegant on nose and palate, pure and refined but rich and aromatic. This is a full-bodied and generous but finessed and fresh red with a marvelous texture and perfectly balanced fruit. The wine is superb, and although there might be more exciting terroirs, the silky texture and refreshing grip is unique, probably due to the antique vines and the whole-cluster fermentation, a method that is quite rare in Saumur. This Franc de Pied is fabulous, pure, fresh and crunchy and reminds me of finest Austrian Blaufränkisch. Tasted in June 2021.
Thierry’s domaine, Roches Neuves, whose vineyards are planted in the Saumur (Blanc) and Saumur-Champigny (Rouge) appellations, has rightfully become one of the greatest examples of high achievement in biodynamic vine growing in France. We put him up there with the greats: Abbatucci in Corsica, Ganevat in the Jura, Ostertag in Alsace. His total dedication to site specific wines produced from Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc, his “parcellaires,” has produced some of the most exciting wines in the Loire Valley today.
Thierry relocated to the Loire from Bordeaux in the early 1990s, and soon fell under the influence of his spiritual father, Charly Foucault of Clos Rougeard. Thierry would ultimately convert his entire domaine to biodynamic viticulture, which was the equivalent of his wine epiphany. Listening and observing his plants, allowing them to guide him, revolutionized his way of thinking. Thierry harvests on the relatively early side to preserve fresh, vibrant fruit. His goal is to produce Cabernet with purity, finesse, and drinkability, while avoiding rusticity, vegetal character, and hard tannins. When it comes to his Chenin, he makes bone dry, high acid, mineral wines that drink like Chablis young and take on weight slowly over time. Aging takes place in large oval foudres (for the whites) and round foudres and demi-muids (for the reds) in Thierry’s frigid tuffeau cellars below his winery in Varrains. His incredibly diverse terroirs are translated with utter clarity and precision.
Marked by great châteaux built with the same tuffeau limestone that is also responsible for the excavation of so many of the famed Loire caves, Saumur is famous for its Chenin blanc based sparkling wines. Inside the Saumur region, Saumur-Champigny creates some of the Loire’s greatest Cabernet Francs.
Cabernet Franc, a proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, is the subtler and more delicate of the Cabernets. Today Cabernet Franc produces outstanding single varietal wines across the wine-producing world. Somm Secret—One of California's best-kept secrets is the Happy Canyon appellation of Santa Barbara. Here Cabernet Franc shines as a single varietal wine or in blends, expressing sumptuous fruit, savory aromas and polished tannins.