• Saumur Blanc Royalty: Domaine Guiberteau

    Saumur Blanc Royalty: Domaine Guiberteau

    Visiting the Loire's Saumur for the first time, the idyllic, undulating hills perfectly matched my notion of pastoral France, but I didn't have a clue where to spot the grand terroir. Since the middle ages, the hill of Brézé was esteemed as any white wine terroir in France, but the secret was in the bedrock of this unassuming, gentle slope.

    The famed tuffeau limestone is the backbone of France's single most celebrated Chenin Blanc, Clos Rougeard's Brézé bottling, which often surpasses $400 per bottle. However, Romain Guiberteau's wines offer the ultimate intersection between this appellation's brilliance and value. Having mentored under the Foucault family, he's learned the secrets to capturing Chenin at its most crystalline and pure!

    The Guiberteau family has farmed Saumur's hill of Brézé for more than a century, but it was when Romain began implementing critical changes in farming that quality began to soar. Unlike neighboring appellations, where Chenin Blanc's rounded, overt orchard fruit dominates, the alkaline limestone soils in Saumur bring cut and lacy minerality, sharing more in common with Chablis and Champagne.

    Shop Domaine Guiberteau

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Saumur Blanc Royalty: Domaine Guiberteau

    Saumur Blanc Royalty: Domaine Guiberteau

    Visiting the Loire's Saumur for the first time, the idyllic, undulating hills perfectly matched my notion of pastoral France, but I didn't have a clue where to spot the grand terroir. Since the middle ages, the hill of Brézé was esteemed as any white wine terroir in France, but the secret was in the bedrock of this unassuming, gentle slope.

    The famed tuffeau limestone is the backbone of France's single most celebrated Chenin Blanc, Clos Rougeard's Brézé bottling, which often surpasses $400 per bottle. However, Romain Guiberteau's wines offer the ultimate intersection between this appellation's brilliance and value. Having mentored under the Foucault family, he's learned the secrets to capturing Chenin at its most crystalline and pure!

    The Guiberteau family has farmed Saumur's hill of Brézé for more than a century, but it was when Romain began implementing critical changes in farming that quality began to soar. Unlike neighboring appellations, where Chenin Blanc's rounded, overt orchard fruit dominates, the alkaline limestone soils in Saumur bring cut and lacy minerality, sharing more in common with Chablis and Champagne.

    Shop Domaine Guiberteau

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • 2014 Château de Brézé:  Saumur Soaring

    2014 Château de Brézé: Saumur Soaring

    A May 2016 visit to the Loire Valley brought a wide array of discoveries, but the visit that left the most indelible mark was with Arnaud Lambert at Château de Brézé in Saumur. I had been familiar with their 2012 vintage, however what we tasted from the 2014's really drove home the point that this estate is now a top benchmark of Saumur.

    The 2014 was one where Saumur strived and where Chenin Blanc from an estate dating back to the 1400's was executed brilliantly. The 2014's from Lambert are among the most thrilling white wines produced anywhere in France, but now the cat is out of the bag.

    Arnaud Lambert resurrected the Château de Brézé of Saumur, a domaine praised for their Chenin Blanc wines as far back as the 15th century where they were served at royal courts throughout Europe. Regularly the Chateau would exchange their wines with those of the revered Château d'Yquem of Bordeaux - And today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    As times passed and industrialism gave way to quick fixes in the vineyards (herbicides, pesticides) to ensure high yields and minimize the need for hand work the Chateau de Brézé lost something. Recruited in 2009, Lambert has spent the last nine years finding the magic by going back to the roots. Lambert immediately converted to organic farming, drastically reduced yields, and has started to incorporate biodynamic principals. 

    Saumur's high concentration of tuffeau limestone, and its active calcium content, has long delivered wines of striking purity and elegance. Winemaking styles here lead most producers to block malolactic fermentation, which help Chenin Blanc preserve its bright, linear, and more crystalline traits. The top whites here see some new French oak, but the flavor is nearly imperceptible, as fruit from these sites absorbs any woody quality that may otherwise stand out. 

    While most wines in the appellation showcase fresh orchard fruit notes, those of Chateau Brézé have a deep textural element and persistent finish that strikingly stand out from their neighbors. The poached pear and quince notes are met with brown spices, orange zest, and chalky minerality.

    Today offered are the two top wines of the estate, both evoking the glory of what once graced the tables of kings and queens throughout the continent.

    Clos David is sourced from a parcel of pure sand and gravelly limestone. A cool site that never develops botrytis, and sand gives an elegance to this wine that stands out.

    Clos de la Rue is the top wine of the domaine. From the warmest vineyard on the hill of Brézé, and protected from the gusts of wind that regularly zip throughout vine rows. Sandy limestone at the top of the hill, with clay underneath gives richness, power, and deep texture.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen