The wine behind the photo: #4 Saumur

Cabernet Franc is the predominant red grape of the mid Loire valley around Saumur, the medieval town with a fine chateau shown above. Saumur is a bustling town that just oozes “all things wine”, brasseries, wine merchants, vignerons, vineyards…… as well as all of the things you associate generally with such a French town. Cabernet Franc is often one of the component grapes of red Bordeaux wines, but here in the Loire Valley it makes fine red wines on its own accord. The wines of Saumur Champigny just outside the main town and along the river are grown in a tuffeau terroir, a local limestone, chalky and sandy.

Domaine Filliatreau is our favourite producer here with cellars and a tasting room cut into the face of some white tuffeau cliffs on the main road between Saumur and Chinon. Our wine of choice here is their Grande Vignolle:

The vines of this cuvée grow just above the troglodyte site of the Grande Vignolle. Dug for centuries by man, from simple cellars to stately homes, today it is the showcase for Domaine Filliatreau’s products. A cuvée made from 60-year-old vines on a plot that has been renowned for several centuries. This unfiltered cuvée will take off at least a year and a half after the vintage. Fruit in plenty, just like its length of finish. Full-bodied and greedy, this is a vintage that is consumed in its youth but which really expresses itself after two or three years.”

A generous portion was poured into my glass and Charlotte then stood back, gestured at the glass and smiled as she challenged me to name the vintage! The two other visitors to my left stopped tasting and watched …. no pressure then! Dr C looked sideways at me and nodded, that was the only encouragement I needed, except for a little help from Sartre, Heidegger and existentialist thinking! I swirled the wine around the glass and held it over a clean white page of my notebook, a definite brown tinge at the meniscus and certainly less garnet in colour, darker in fact. So, this wine is NOT of a recent vintage say 2015-2017. My initial swirl and sniff revealed a definite earthiness I always get with Cabernet Franc which also seems to increase with age. The first taste was a surprise, softened tannin but still some acidity confused my taste buds to hell, or was it the other way round? The wine revealed more fruit and floral notes than the 2005 I had tasted earlier, so my brain told me that this is younger than 2005, could it be a 2010 which was a high scoring vintage for the region, or a 2009, also a brilliant harvest year with vintages either side of 2009/10 being less good? I told Charlotte I had narrowed it down to 2 years, she smiled again and told me to choose ….. I went for the 2010 based purely on knowledge of other wines from Chinon I had bought in 2015. “Well done” she said turning the bottle around to reveal a 2010 label and astounding the audience to my left who just said “how the hell did you do that?”.” Charlotte explained it to them, I was too exhausted!”

Just one of the many tales in my new book, published now on Amazon, It’s Not About The Wine

Categories: Loire, Photography, Wine

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7 replies

  1. Very impressive!
    Thanks for the great write up of this local wine and our own local ‘white cliffs’! Looking forward to seeing you again soon. Regards Mieke and the team at hotel La Croix Blanche Fontevraud

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Filliatreau and Gratien and Meyer are our two favourite vignerons in your area. We had such a great time at your hotel, ideally situated centrally between so many sites we are interested in. We loved sitting outside too, enjoying a good wine of course! Hope we can return soon too 👍🍷

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  2. Well done indeed! It takes a lot of knowledge and experience to be able to do that. I amused my friends once at a wine bar by guessing the wine and the year, but I was lucky given it was a wine from Campania, not so lucky the second time, there are so many different grapes in Italy!

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    • Thank you, high praise indeed from a “super taster”. Are you posting again soon?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, on Saturday! Final post on A Room With A View and then onto pleasure, aesthetics and beauty 😉

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      • I’ve really struggled with A Room With A View, maybe my powers of concentration have slipped. I’ve read about 25% of it so far and am struggling to “see a plot, storyline, message etc”. I’ve read so many classics over the years, complete works of Dickens, Zola, Dostoyevsky, plus ancient classics of Homer, Virgil and more. Maybe I’m using Audible too much these days!

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      • I’m sorry to hear that. I guess I could say without giving too much away that it’s a marriage plot, and for me, like Jane Austen even though I know there’s a happy ending the prose and interactions between characters are interesting. Maybe it’s just not aligned with your personal taste?

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