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Domaine des Roches Neuves: “Wonderful Biodynamic Saumur”

Domaine des Roches Neuves: “Wonderful Biodynamic Saumur”
“Domaine des Roches Neuves is famous as a producer of wonderful biodynamic Saumur; Germain has for years been making some of the region’s more compelling wines.” Parr and Mackay, The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste 
“The range of wines from Domaine des Roches Neuves has a transparency, delicacy, and ease that you encounter too infrequently. Red wine represents the majority of production at this estate with vineyards scattered around the appellation but a lightness of touch and purity of fruit are common threads no matter the soil type, or orientation.” Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous 
“These days I think Thierry Germain has new, stronger and broader competition within Saumur-Champigny but his wines are still on the top tier in the appellation.” Chris Kissack, The Wine Doctor

If you are visiting Saumur, you must book a table at Bistrot de la Place in Place St-Pierre, just a short walk from the river. Based on seasonal local produce, the menu is always reliably delicious, and the service runs like clockwork. But we don’t come here for the food. It’s not a given that a wine list of regional France fills one with a mixture of warmth and enthusiasm, but this is different. The wine menu here is a microcosm of what is happening in the Loire Valley, and the Saumur list offers an exciting mix of benchmark growers and emerging local talent. It wasn’t always this way. When we first started visiting, the Loire listing lived in the shadow of the impressive selections from Burgundy, Champagne and the Rhône. This is no longer the case.
 
It’s unlikely a coincidence that Saumur’s renaissance generally shares a similar trajectory with the rise of Thierry Germain and Domaine des Roches Neuves. In fact, it’s hard to overestimate this outward-looking grower’s galvanising influence on the notion of place, terroir-focussed farming and measured cellar practices of the region’s younger producers. Put simply, without Germain, it’s unlikely Saumur’s progress would be as advanced as it is today, and the appellation (and the wine list at Bistrot de la Place) is all the better for it. Followers of this region will know Germain was not the first to illustrate that Saumur-Champigny could rival France’s most significant red wine regions. Still, he was undoubtedly the most vocal and his message the most passionate and unguarded. 
 
While the Germain stimulus has no doubt helped to create more competition for his own domaine (so much was intended), the quality here remains entrenched at the summit. Now joined by his daughter Jeanne (who runs the domaine’s stables and ploughing regime) and his son Louis, Roches Neuves’ Saumur-Champigny sets the epitome for that Saumurois silky, swaggering texture and beguiling, Pinot-like delicacy and purity. The whites are equally stunning—years ago, Germain deduced that Saumur’s most exciting whites derived from the region’s most calcaire soils, where there were only the thinnest topsoils, barely lining the pure limestone mother-rock beneath. He therefore searched for sites that matched this criterion and today, the domaine’s Chenin Blancs are wines of remarkable precision, energy and purity.  
 
Our offer this year is a tale of two vintages. For the farmers at least, 2021 will be remembered for the pitched battle between growers and the freezing Spring temperatures. We wish we could tell you it ended honours-even, but the widely publicised, brutal two-week frost could not be contained, and yields were down drastically. It was also a considerably cooler season overall, the low yields and later harvest resulting in enthrallingly fresh and compact wines in both colours. In dramatic contrast, 2020 was early and benign. Picked at pinpoint ripeness, the wines carry the silky succulence and rock-hewn resonance that has become a hallmark of this producer. We hope the notes below do the wines justice—whatever you choose, you are guaranteed something compelling and seriously delicious. 

For more information and all available wines from Domaine de Roches Neuves, please visit here.

The Wines

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