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A Quick Note on Saturday Sips + A Loire Cabernet Franc Excursion

To encourage the recommended social distancing we are placing our Saturday tastings on hold. Our weekly emails will go out as usual with a bit more emphasis on regional discovery.

As always, we are happy to provide our deep insight over the phone to help you assemble anything you might need. We can easily process the payment of your purchase over the phone and delivery to your doorstep will be on us, or you can pick it up at our back door without having to leave your car. If you’d like to place an order for delivery or pick up at our back door, give us a call at 248-398-0030. You can also email or

A Loire Cabernet Franc Excursion


Stone rarely looms as large in French life as it does along the Loire River Valley. The generous and celebrated local supplies of malleable limestone (tuffeau) are responsible for both grand old castles and Cabernet Franc-based wines that are lively, bursting with juicy black raspberry fruit. Yet the soils are as varied as the expressions of Cabernet Franc that come from these areas with the potential to produce France’s most refreshing, elegant, and profound versions of this grape variety. The center of it all are the appellations of Saumur-Champigny, Chinon, and Bourgeil, three of the most important sub-regions for red wine production in the Loire — all producing 100% Cabernet Franc wines.

Special prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match)


Domaine des Roches Neuves

Thierry Germain conjures heady and uncompromising wines from his 69 acre estate, Domaine des Roches Neuves, just south of the city of Saumur. Raised in Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, at the family winery of Château Yon-Figeac, Thierry set out on his own at the tender age of 23 to make his name in the more challenging climate of northern France. Although receiving accolades nearly from the start, his winemaking style has gone through several stages of metamorphosis over the years, ultimately eschewing new oak and blowsy fruit for precision and sense of place. Thierry believes that the wines he has made over the past four vintages truly exhibit the highest expressions of Saumur.

We’re using the word “style” to talk about Thierry’s winemaking but the adjustment has really been about moving away from wines created in the cellar and toward wines created in the vineyard. The domaine has been certified biodynamic since 2002. Harvesting is done completely by hand in over 30 parcels, all of which are vinified separately with indigenous yeast. Yields are small and almost all of his wines are matured in larger casks, although he particularly likes the three-year-old barrels that he buys each year from the Burgundy producer Méo-Camuzet in Vosne-Romanée. Which is no surprise as one of Thierry’s goals is having his Saumur-Champigny rival the silky elegance of high level Burgundy.

~$22 “Thierry Germain” (Saumur-Champigny 2016)
A great value apocalypse wine. Juicy.

~$25 “Soliterre” (Saumur-Champigny 2016)
A touch more gravitas than its little brother, cuvée “Thierry Germain.”

~$37 “Terres Chaudes” (Saumur-Champigny 2015)
From 35 to 45 year old vines in the lieu-dit of “Les Dares” in the commune of Chaintres as well as the hillside of Poyeux.

~$49 “Franc de Pied” (Saumur-Champigny 2015)
From a three acre plot of sand and limestone in the commune of Saumur.

~$53 “Marginale” (Saumur-Champigny 2015)
Only made in top vintages. The 2015 “Marginale” is from a seven acre, south-facing plot of 45 year old vines in the lieu-dit of “Les Dares” in the commune of Chaintres.

~$53 “Clos de l’Echelier” (Saumur-Champigny 2015)
From a seven acre, walled vineyard of 40 year old vines in the commune of Dampierre sur Loire.

~$62 “Mémoires”  (Saumur-Champigny 2015)
From a 1.7 acre vineyard in the commune of Dampierre sur Loire with vines planted in 1904.


Château du Hureau

In the small town of Dampierre-sur-Loire overlooking the Loire River, Château du Hureau is able to harness climate, soil, and vine to reveal some of the most striking wines of the appellation.

Fifth generation vigneron Philippe Vatan and his daughter Agathe use organic and biodynamic farming techniques and low yields to coax richness and terroir out of their 20 plots covering just under 50 acres. The varying layers of topsoil (it’s either fertile clay or a sandy type of soil) and diverse sun exposure affect every plot’s personality, expression, and importance in their various cuvées. The wines are vinified in a cave carved out of the tuffeau cliffs centuries ago. The wines see long fermentations with indigenous yeasts. The élevage lasts from 10 to 20 months deep in the tuffeau cellars in a combination of demi-muids and foudres.

All of these factors contribute to the elaboration of Cabernet Franc wines that are aromatically complex with the hallmark Saumur-Champigny scents of black raspberry and earth. Wines that are dark and intense yet supple and sappy, with the electrifying, palpable acidity you expect from northern France.

~$31 “Fours à Chaux” (Saumur-Champigny 2014)
From two plots “Les Fiefgarniers” and “Pavignolles” in the vineyards of “Fours à Chaux,” mixed sand and clay above a chalky limestone bowl that gets prolonged sunlight during the ripening season. The age of the vines varies between 20 and 50 years.

~$37 “Les Fevettes” (Saumur-Champigny 2014)
From the deep clay lieux-dits of “Les Fevettes” and “La Croix Blanche” – Château du Hureau’s oldest Cabernet Franc vineyards planted in 1943.

~$44 “Lisagathe” (Saumur-Champigny 2014)
The cuvée “Lisagathe” is named after Philippe’s two daughters, Lisa and Agathe. This is Château du Hureau’s top wine from a plot named “La Corde” that was planted in 1953 and located on the hillside just above the Château.


Clos Rougeard

Clos Rougeard are among the world’s most coveted wines. The Clos Rougeard Cabernet Franc vineyards are located in the heart of Saumur’s tuffeau plateau, Décès de Charly Foucault, l'un des frères vignerons du Clos Rougeard à Saumura deep bed of limestone overlain with different topsoils. The vineyards are located in Chacé, between Tours and Angers, and cover 25 acres in the Saumur and the Saumur-Champigny appellations.

The high quality of the estate’s wines is largely due to its rigorous viticultural standards practiced for decades by brothers Nady and Charly Foucault, including employing organic methods long before the idea became fashionable. The wine is vinified with as little intervention as possible.

At the end of December 2015, Jean-Louis “Charly” Foucault died and the estate was purchased by the French billionaire Bouygues brothers, current owners of Château Montrose in Bordeaux. Our stock consists only of wines produced before this acquisition.

Clos Rougeard (Saumur-Champigny)
$261 (2005)
$225 (2006)

$207 (2007)
$180 (2008)
$180 (2010)
$180 (2013)

Sourced from 50 to 70-year-old vines in the villages of Chacé, Varrains, and Dampierre.

Clos Rougeard “Poyeux” (Saumur-Champigny)
$297 (2006)
$270 (2007)
$252 (2008)
$252 (2010)

Fifty year old vines in a south-facing parcel of eroded sandstone over tuffeau, adjacent to the deep cellar in Clos Rougeard’s home village of Chacé.

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Posted on 2020.03.19 in France, Saturday Sips Wines, Loire


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