Thierry Germain Saumur-Champigny Terres Chaudes 2019


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From the commune Chacé and the lieu-dit Les Poyeux and vines averaging 35 to 45 years old rooting in a calcareous terroir, the 2019 Saumur Champigny Terres Chaudes opens with a lovely fresh and aromatic bouquet of perfectly ripe and concentrated dark and red berries that intermingle with peppery and discreet nougat notes. Lush and silky on the palate, this is a beautifully fruity Cabernet Franc with a serious tannin structure and a salty-vital, refreshing, pure and crunchy finish. A really fabulous wine that is irresistible. Tasted in June 2021. Drink: 2021-2030. 92 points

Over the last three years, I have tasted an impressive series of beautiful Cabernet Francs and Chenin Blancs of this exceptional producer of Saumur and Saumur Champigny. Whereas the summers get warmer and drier and the ability to produce big and bold red wines isn’t impossible anymore even in the Loire Valley, at Thierry Germain’s Domaine des Roches Neuves the wines have become even finer and fresher in recent years. The potential alcohol level of his wines rarely exceeds 12.5% when the grapes are picked, whereas it had been at 14.5% before. Thierry has also changed the maceration (“infusion rather than extraction”) and shortened the aging in barrels.

Germain says he has only learned to understand Cabernet Franc in the last eight years. “It’s a very good variety, if you can manage its darker side, which means the vegetal and bitter part of the grape. My wines are now fully ripe and harmonious, whereas before I didn’t find the balance I was aiming for because of the bitterness and greenish character. A good wine, however, is based on fruit and minerals and soil.”

In wine, he doesn’t appreciate the material (“matière”) but the “texture, the crunchiness and the saline….I need these floral scents and the energy in wine.” To achieve these goals, Germain says he has to step back and work the vineyard.

His whites have also changed. They are picked a bit earlier when the color is still green-yellow to preserve the fruits, the freshness and the salinity. The pressing is gentle and rather short (about four hours), with no movement. The natural fermentation starts in the vats but finishes in oak vats, which have become bigger for the single-vineyard wines since the 2015 vintage. The Clos Romans is now aged in 600-liter barrels, l’Echelir in 1,200-liter foudres. The bottling is before July, and the wines have been filtered with kieselgur (diatomite) since 2016.

2019 has been a great year for Thierry Germain. The whole series is absolutely impressive and combines ripeness and concentration with energy, purity and salinity. His 2019 Saumur Blanc Clos Romans is a great Chenin that will probably become even better with bottle age. Among the reds, the 2019 Saumur Champignys Franc de Pied and Les Mémoires are my top favorites, and I assume I will score them even higher in five years or so.


Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate (10/21)