Old vines at Domaine des Roches Neuves

Superb Loire Reds from Domaine des Roches Neuves and Domaine Breton, Featuring 2018 Breton "Clos Sénéchal!"

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We have not offered the wines of the Germain family at Domaine des Roches Neuves as often as we should, an error that goes back 30 years to when Thierry Germain arrived in the Loire from Bordeaux. His early vintages were made in a style more akin to Bordeaux than to Saumur, and being Loire purists of the worst sort, we were slow to appreciate the changes at the estate that have broought it into the top ranks of Loire wines, both red and white. As Chris Kissack says on his fine website The Wine Doctor: "Since this turn-around the domaine has, in my opinion, become a benchmark domaine not only for the appellation but also for the entire Loire Valley. These wines are some of the most striking examples of Cabernet Franc (and, increasingly, also Chenin Blanc) that you will find in France today."

Thierry and Marie Germain

From the Domaine's website: "Founded in 1850 by the Duveau family, Domaine des Roches Neuves was taken up by Thierry and Marie Germain in 1991. Spanning 12 hectares with Cabernet Franc at the time, the domain grew with 2 hectares of Chenin and 8 more hectares of Cabernet Franc in 1996. The vineyard expanded with new plots in 2012: Clos de l’Echelier and Les Mémoires. The winery completely converted all its operations for organic winegrowing in the late 1990s, then transitioned to biodynamic methods in the early 2000s. Implemented with common sense and a positive intention, Biodynamics completely and naturally matches the Domaine des Roches Neuves philosophy." The estate's great farming is now complemented  with winemaking techniques that emphasize infusion rather than extraction and with aging in large older barrels or vats, creating wines of great complexity and beauty. We're happy to offer four of the domain's superb Saumur-Champignys!

 

Domaine Breton has played a major role in the Loire Valley as their early conversion to organic and Biodynamic farming, their natural vinifications and the outgoing personalities of Catherine and Pierre have contributed enormously to the spread of better farming and winemaking in the region and beyond.

Pierre, Catherine, Paul, France and Baptiste

We're very exited to feature the 2018 Bourgueil "Clos Sénéchal" - it's one of our very favorite Loire reds, and from a "magnificent" vintage! This parcel is on a great terroir east of Benais where the topsoil is a limestone clay mix (specifically "argile éolienne") over the Turonian limestone. Here the lack of gravel and sand in the topsoil produces a wine which is a bit more austere than other Bourgueils, but which possesses a remarkable purity of fruit with elegant, silky tannins, making it enjoyable as a young wine with a remarkable ability to age in a Burgundian style.The vines are 35 to 50 years old. The grapes are hand-harvested into 20 kilo crates  and the alcoholic fermentation takes roughly three weeks, during which no SO2 is added. The wine is aged two years in used Grenier foudres with minimal SO2 added before bottling. (We're opening a 2002 on my wife's birthday later this month...can't wait!)

The Bretons' "Les Perrières" is one of the most beautiful red wines of the Loire. From 70 year-old vines in a great mid-slope parcel with sandy clay on the surface, then clay and limestone tuffeau below. The wine's excellence comes from the Bretons' long experience with this parcel, allowing for great terroir expression and ageability.  

A few details about the estate and their methods: Organic and biodynamic farming since 1990; manual harvesting in small baskets; natural vinifications - wild yeast fermentations with zero additives, with minimal or zero SO2 added before bottling ("To succeed in wine, as in life, one must live dangerously" - Jules Chauvet); a high percentage of old vines which are replaced by massale selection; wines age in used barriques, foudres or concrete "eggs."

Wines arrive Tuesday 8/2. Today's offers are net priced.

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Breton, Catherine et Pierre 2018 Bourgueil Clos Sénéchal

The Clos Sénéchal is a south-facing mid-slope vineyard, with soils of clay and limestone over the Turonian limestone bedrock, in organic and biodynamic farming since 1990. The vines are 35 to 50 years old, replaced slowly by massale selection. The grapes are hand-harvested into 20 kilo crates, there is a three-week alcoholic fermentation with wild yeasts, no added SO2. Two year elevage in Grenier foudres with minimal SO2 added before bottling (approx 20mg/l). This is historically a wine that cries out for some time in the cellar. THAT SAID - the 2018 is very pretty and approachable, with red and black plum fruit at the core, with dried violets and cool savory mineral notes. There is still plenty of structure here that will allow for time in the cellar but unlike some of the Sénéchals of the past you can happily crack one now and have a delightful evening of drinking!

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  • $49.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Breton, Catherine et Pierre 2015 Bourgueil Les Perrières

The Bretons "Les Perrières" is one of the most beautiful red wines of the Loire. From 70 year-old vines in a great mid-slope parcel with sandy clay on the surface, then clay and limestone tuffeau below. The wine's excellence wine comes from the Bretons long experience with this parcel, their 30 years of organic and biodynamic farming and a masterful vinification and élevage, with minimal SO2, which allows great terroir expression and ageability. Some details: Hand harvested into small boxes; 7 day cool maceration, wild yeast fermentation in Grenier oak vat without addition of SO2, progressively warmer over 15 - 24 days; no chaptalization, minimal extraction; aged in used barrels for two years with one racking; bottled after 2 1/2 years on a "flower" day. Always my favorite of the Breton reds, this is consistently brilliant and ageworthy (at the end of a visit years ago, Catherine handed me a bottle of the '85 to drink with dinner that night - it was GREAT). This 2015 is one to look forward to. The classic dark fruit and dried violet petal profile is underscored by wet river stones and salty chalky notes and firm tannic structure that bodes well for many years to come. Sam Ehrlich

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  • $53.99

  • Organic
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Roches Neuves 2020 Saumur-Champigny Domaine

The Roches Neuves Cuvée Domaine is grown on limestone bedrock with sandy clay topsoil, the vineyard is lightly plowed, with natural grass cover. The grapes are hand-picked into wooden crates,There is a low temperature fermentation, warming slowly and followed by aging on the fine lees without sulfur. This is as classic as can be, little hints of red and black berries wrapped in purple flowers with a clay-y salty finish.  This is beautiful now and will reward multiple visits over the next few years.

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  • $27.99

  • Organic
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Roches Neuves 2019 Saumur-Champigny La Marginale

"2019 La Marginale is sourced from vines around Chacé and Varrains (so very close to the domaine itself), in particular from the well-known lieu-dit Les Poyeux. The bedrock here is Turonian limestone, with clay-limestone soils above, and the slope is south-facing. The yield is low, typically 25-35 hl/ha, and as with other cuvées the fruit is carefully sorted and then at least part of the harvest is destemmed while the rest is left in whole bunches...Again I am taken by the fresh character in what was a warm vintage, with dark and fragrant fruits especially damsons, peonies, violets and pencil shavings. This leads to a delightfully elegant poise on the palate, a medium-bodied presence but with a firm central core of tannic grip and fresh acidity too. It feels structured, firm, poised and upright, with great restraint running into a long grip of ripe tannins. This has excellent potential."  Chris Kissack in The Wine Doctor

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  • $57.99

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Roches Neuves 2018 Saumur-Champigny Les Mémoires

(18 btls available.) "This wine is sourced from a single parcel of very old Cabernet Franc vines in Dampierre, and Thierry believes that at 120 years of age these could be the oldest Cabernet Franc vines in the entire Loire Valley. What is more, while some of the vines are grafted, approximately half appear to be established on their own roots, which makes this tiny parcel even more distinctive. As the name suggests, these old vines hold the ‘memories’ of the region and its wines, how they used to be before phylloxera. The parcel is just 0.72 hectares in size, and was acquired by Thierry in 2011. The 2018 Les Mémoires was vinified in a 25-hectolitre foudre from Stockinger. Although it has a less saturated appearance than the 2018 Clos de l’Échelier, the nose is still filled with character. It is dark yet perfumed with rose petals and peonies, hugely expressive but still focused and tense. The palate follows exactly this style, with great limestone energy, dark and focused like the nose, with damsons, currants and roses. A much more tense and mineral style, undeniably limestone-structured. Hugely impressive." Chris Kissack The Wine Doctor

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  • $67.99

  • Organic
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Roches Neuves 2018 Saumur-Champigny Clos de l'Echelier

"The 1.8-hectare Clos de l'Echelier is situated at the side of the Rue de l’Église, right on the edge of the Saumur plateau. The Cabernet Franc accounts for 1.4 hectares of the clos, planted on a very thin layer of white clay laid over limestone. It was vinified in a 12-hectolitre foudre. The 2018 shows a glossy and richly saturated hue in the glass. It has a beautifully perfumed nose, scented with violets, damsons, black cherry and currants, all very dark and focused which seems to me to be the perfect reflection of the vintage. The palate is striking, with a lightly velvety and creamed texture, filled with those floral violet-tinged fruits seen on the nose, with plenty of fine grip to it. A sublime and very desirable result, but with huge potential for development..." Chris Kissack The Wine Doctor

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  • $63.99

  • Organic
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  • Low Sulfur