In just a few years, Angers and Saumur have become in a way the capital of fine organic, biodynamic, and natural wines thanks to the salons organised there every year to bring together some of the best domains. Here we let you in on some of our favourite discoveries.
This was an incredible opportunity to meet Anne and Jean-François Ganevat at one of the salons we attended (La Dive). Whilst we had already tried a couple of their cuvées, here was the chance to get a better overview of their whole range. And they did not disappoint. Most notable were the whites (2016 vintage), Chardonnay and Savagnin ouillé. We loved Les Cèdres, a full and round wine from old vines, with a palate at once fresh and chewy. Les Grandes Teppes is a pure, crystalline Chardonnay with a rich and salty character. Les Chalasses is a particularly fine Chardonnay made from vines planted in 1902 that possesses personality and complexity, with a superb balance of tension and breadth. Les Chalasses Marnes Bleues, a Savagnin ouillé matured in demi-muids, also has this wonderful balance between fat, tension, and incredible length.
For some of our team, this was a first. After having been recommended this domain by people of very good taste, it was finally time to try the cuvées of Léon Barral (Faugères). At La Dive, there was a 2017 white to try, as well as two reds from 2016. The latter were the Tradition cuvée – Carignan, Grenache, and Cinsault, matured in concrete vats – and Valinière – Mourvèdre and Syrah, matured for two years in barrels. And these were immediate favourites: unbelievable balance, charming fruity aromas, and most of all, fine tannins bringing a silky texture and a delicate mouthfeel. Perfect bottles to accompany a dish like lamb, for example.
Domaine Sébastien Riffault
Sébastien Riffault’s Sancerre cuvées have been on our to-try list for quite some time, and they did not let us down! These wines are unique in their genre, perhaps going as far as to redefine Sancerre. Riffault does everything in the most natural way possible, without fining, filtering, or any chemical additives. What results is a beautifully mature wine with strong personality.
Cascina degli Ulivi
We immediately fell for this Piedmont domain founded in the 80s by Stefano Bellotti, the father of Italian biodynamics. For him, the art of winemaking is one of accompanying a natural process with total respect for the environment and for the terroir’s expression. The domain now covers 22 hectares and, as well as wine, grains, fruit and vegetables are grown there. The Nibiô cuvée (an old name for Nebbiolo) stood out, with its rich and structured profile, supported by a superb acidity.
There’s probably no need to introduce you to this Loire icon! At iDealwine we greatly appreciate the domain’s very recognisable style, since it seeks maturity above all else. The Coulée de Serrant 2018 was a particular favourite, an admirably complex cuvée with a wonderful blend of exotic fruits, freshness, and pleasantly bitter notes.
This is one of our preferred Loire domains, since all of their wines are notably delicious, though we especially loved the Faust cuvée. The Charodnnay used to make it was macerated before being matured in sublime amphora pots. Also, their Mephisto cuvée, 100% Cabernet Franc, has an expressive nose with its aromas of black and red fruits, notes of white pepper and an incredible mouthfeel.
A domain with a longstanding reputation, Clau de Nell was taken over by Anne-Claude Leflaive (from the eponymous domain) in 2008 and has been managed by Sylvain Potain since 2009. The influence of Domaine Leflaive is evident in the biodynamic work carried out in the vineyards and the natural vinifications. Extensive extraction is sought, though usually by prolonged infusion rather than by physically working the grape must. From this Anjou domain, we particularly enjoyed the 2017 Violette! From 60-year-old Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon vines, it was at once dense and delicate with fantastic floral notes.
After having already tasted this domain’s wines at a previous Angers salon, it was time to go back for some more Saumur and Saumur-Champigny. And we’re still somewhat surprised that La Porte Saint-Jean remains so understated. It must be because it is still so young. Sylvain Dittière, who learnt his craft from masters like Gauby, Thierry Germain, Château Yvonne, and Clos Rougeard, produces bottles of the highest quality. His reds are silky, deep, and elegant. The whites have a wonderful salt minerality running through them. Undoubtedly a rising star for the Loire.
Champagne Philippe Lancelot
One of our future partner domains! After having acquired the plots, selected and defined his single-plot cuvées, Philippe has taken the beginning of 2020 as his chance to introduce us to his first cuvées. These will be available to the public from the spring!