Two weeks ago, I wrote about my visit to Domaine des Roches Neuves, highlighting their top, old-vine Cabernet Franc named Les Mémoires. I'm circling back since the Chenin Blancs deserve their own spotlight. A protégé of Clos Rougeard's Charly Foucault, Thierry Germain has been practicing Biodynamics for over two decades and is now a benchmark for the Loire.
Germain's Chenins are marked by rich concentration and mouth-watering acidity—so much so that we tasted them after the Cabernet Francs. Clos Romans is considerably young, as it was re-planted in 2007, but don’t let that fool you. This 0.3-hectare parcel produces Germain’s most promising and coveted cuvée. Some enthusiasts have gone as far as to compare its grandeur to Burgundy’s Corton-Charlemagne. At this site, the dense limestone soils pulverized into a chalk-like form express a salty minerality in the wine. This insider cuvée continues to creep up in price, but Germain's son, Louis, argues that the 2020 vintage is one of the best renditions they’ve produced. If that price tag is still too steep, the Clos du Moulin is a great alternative, as it comes from a neighboring parcel.
Across the board, these Chenins and Cabernet Francs walk a fine balance of ripeness, freshness, and underlying tension to drive it all home—to be enjoyed now or years down the road. With time in bottle, the wines have transformational aging capabilities like the best of Burgundy. There are many great producers throughout the Loire, but Germain remains one of the very best.
In March, I made my first pilgrimage to La Dive Bouteille, where natural wine devotees from across the globe gather to catch a glimpse of the world’s most famous natural winemakers. Luckily for me, La Dive takes place in my favorite appellation in the Loire: Saumur. The trip wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Domaine des Roches Neuves.
A protégé of Clos Rougeard's Charly Foucault, Thierry Germain has been practicing Biodynamics for over two decades. He is considered one of the greatest Biodynamic vigerons in France and a benchmark for the Loire. Thierry and his son Louis were amazing hosts. Our tour included a walkthrough of the winery and ancient underground cellar, followed by a detailed tasting of the Roches Neuves lineup. They have over 60 parcels throughout Saumur, but today’s offer spotlights their top Cabernet Franc.
In Saumur, the style has drastically shifted from the power of Bordeaux to the elegance of Red Burgundy. (Most domaines only perform pump-overs during fermentation to avoid extracting too many tannins). Roches Neuves especially plays up this variety's fresh streak and rose florals. Planted in 1904, Les Mémoires comes the Germain family's oldest vines and yields a soulfully deep, balanced Cabernet Franc. In addition to the typical clay and tuffeau limestone soils, there is also some flint here, which Louis believes further adds to the wine's strength and composure.
These Cabernet Francs and Chenins walk a fine balance of ripeness, freshness, and underlying tension to drive it all home—to be enjoyed now or years down the road. With time in bottle, the wines have transformational aging capabilities like the best of Burgundy. There are many great producers throughout the Loire, but Thierry remains one of the very best.