Thierry's seventy-year-old vines are planted on an ancient limestone plateau with remnants of viticulture dating back more than three hundred years. This downright Burgundian wine shows off the savory spine and weightless concentration imparted by this particular site.
Blend: 100% Chenin Blanc
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2019 Saumur L'Échelier opens with an aromatic, openly fruity and soft chalk bouquet with some lovely dashes of lemon juice and notes of flint stones. Round and elegant on the palate, this is an intense, vital and persistent mineral Saumur with textural qualities and a remarkably nervy and salty finish that reveals serious tannin grip and refreshing bitters of lemon juice. 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.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin Blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Somm Secret—Landing in South Africa in the mid 1800s, today the country has double the acreage of Chenin Blanc planted compared to France. There is also a new wave of dedicated producers committed to restoring old Chenin vines.