Clos Rougeard was justifiably considered one of the greatest estates in France when run by the Foucault brothers (the Domaine has since been sold). Though a decade ago their wines were fairly priced and accessible, today they are culty, rare, and extremely expensive. So what are Saumur lovers to do? Turn to the Foucault’s son Antoine Foucault and his wife Caroline Boireau at the fabulous Domaine du Collier.
Collier was founded in 1999 with 6.5 ha in Brézé. They were lucky to acquire some very old vines, particularly in the La Charpentrie vineyard, which contained both 100 year old Chenin Blanc and 100 year old Cabernet Franc vines. The philosophy is close to ‘naturalist’ but not entirely. For instance, sulfur is used minimally at bottling (a good thing IMO), but farming is manual and without any use of chemicals or sprays (thus beyond both organic and biodynamic), fermentation is with indigenous yeasts, and the domaine does not rack. Oak use is an important part of the style, and the domaine uses both new and used barriques as well as foudres. The oak treatment is superb – not obtrusive, but a perfect spicing and aid to structure and complex ferments.
La Charpentrie is the domaine’s top white – made from 100 year old massale vines from a lieu-dit in Brézé (arguably the top Chenin site in the Loire). It is one of the best whites I’ve had from France. Its quality is equivalent to top 1er cru Burgundy, but more driven by the structure of the stunning old-vine chenin fruit rather than any oak influence. And, there is no overt reduction here at this younger-age – a factor that mars many young white Burgundies today. Elegant, structured, very long, clean and pure. There is a beautiful interplay of heirloom apples, beeswax, honeycomb, and white flowers. This is impossible to put down once opened.
This is eminently collectible and shrewd wine lovers should be buying and cellaring this while it is still affordable.
$65 USD at Bi-Rite, SF