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Clos de l’Écotard: The New Releases from a Rising Star

Clos de l’Écotard: The New Releases from a Rising Star

View the whole available range from Clos de l’Écotard here.

“Three white Saumurs are produced with the desire to carve magnificent sleek Chenins, stripped of all artifice. From La Haie Nardin to Pentes passing through the emblematic cuvée of Clos de l’Écotard, these whites are already among the greatest in Saumur.” La Revue du Vin de France
 
“… Wines that embody the best of Saumur’s new-wave style of white.” Jon Bonné, The New French Wines

When Thibaud Chevré joined his father Michel—long-term kemosabe of Roche Neuves’ Thierry Germain—in 2017, Clos de l’Écotard owned a single two-hectare parcel of Chenin Blanc in Courchamps. Today, the domaine is on the ladder and well on its way to becoming fully formed. Alongside the rocky, eponymous Clos de l’Écotard vineyard, Thibaud’s arrival has enabled the domaine to take control of the family’s vines in La Haie Nardin. Now they farm an additional four hectares in nearby Fosse-Bellay. This latter vineyard, an old clos on sand and clay, includes two hectares of Cabernet Franc, allowing the pair to expand their range into Saumur Rouge (with delicious results). There is also a sliver of Gamay and Grolleau Gris.
 
As you would expect from a team led by Roches Neuves’ long-standing ex-chef de culture—someone who must also share in the dazzling successes of that domaine—the vineyard work here is impeccable. The historical vineyards are certified organic (Ecocert) and managed biodynamically (although, mainly due to the red tape involved, the domaine has no plans to certify as biodynamic). The clos is completely ploughed by the domaine’s draft horse, Fleur. Natural grass growth is encouraged and the vines—instead of being trimmed at the top—are rolled á la Roches Neuves and in the style of Burgundy progressives Olivier Lamy and Charles Lachaux et al. Yields are restricted to four or five bunches per vine. Naturally, the grapes are harvested manually (rare in the Loire, where machine harvesting is the norm today).



Thibaut Chevré, May 2022, Artannes-sur-Thouet

The winery and stone cellar lie in the small village of Artannes-sur-Thouet, roughly six clicks from the Clos de l’Écotard vineyard. It’s a tiny place with room for only the barest of winemaking necessities, although the domaine keeps an over-ground refrigeration unit to chill the grapes to five degrees when they arrive. Regarding the winemaking, the fruit is whole-bunch pressed in an old basket press and fermentations are wild. Sometimes malo is partially blocked, sometimes not, depending on the vintage and pH levels. There is little or no sulphur during the vinification or élevage, just a touch at racking and bottling (60mg/L total). Fermentation begins in stainless steel tank, then moves to a mixture of oak foudre (incl. Stockinger) and used 500-litre barrels. To increase the complexity of the inventory, one or two new, low-chauffe barrels from different suppliers are purchased annually. Recently, two grès (sandstone) jars have entered the picture.
 
The legacy of a warm and dry vintage, the 2020 Chenins are stony, ripe and supple, with intense, well-balanced palates alongside graceful, textured length. Following our tasting here last year, we have shipped the domaine’s deliciously vibrant Saumur Brut and its first red wine, a 2021 Saumur Rouge, which is bouncing with red-fruited energy and refreshment. As the French would say, this is a domaine on form.

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