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Dom. Filliatreau Saumur-Champigny La Grande Vignolle 2003
"This starts with a gorgeous perfume of violet and red cherry, builds a taut vibrancy on the palate that tethers the exuberant ripeness and brings out the calcareous soil signature underneath, then finish with fresh and fine tannins. An elegant composed wine of distinct and individual character, this is a fine complement to game birds such as pheasant or partridge."
-Wines & Spirits
Naturally the soil and subsoil of the vineyards are highly calcareous. This type of soil lends the Cabernet Franc grapes juicy flavors and good acidity.
The vines are of considerable age and yields are kept low. The winery has been practicing organic viticulture since 1998, and also has a single plot vineyard (that goes into making Château Fouquet) that is being converted to biodynamic viticulture. The wine is vinified in stainless steel and bottled unfiltered.
Paul Filliatreau, who twenty years ago did much to put the AOC Saumur-Champigny on the map of great wines, has resolved to go back to "older ways" of tending vines and found the principles of bio-dynamie well-suited to this purpose.
Praised for its stately Renaissance-era chateaux as well as its diverse variety of wines, the picturesque Loire valley produces elegant and underrated red, white, and rosé as well as sparkling and sweet wines. Just south of Paris, the appellation lies along the river of the same name and stretches from the center of France to the Atlantic coast. Geography and climate differ greatly along the Loire’s vast length. Furthest inland, the climate is continental, becoming classically maritime as it reaches the ocean. Accordingly, the Loire Valley is perhaps the most diverse wine-producing region in France—this region does a little bit of everything, and it does it all quite well.
The Loire can be divided into three main growing areas, from west to east: the Lower Loire, Middle Loire, and Upper/Central Loire. The Pay Nantais region of the Lower Loire is focused on acidic, saline whites that beg for fresh seafood. Muscadet, made from the Melon de Bourgogne variety, is the most noteworthy appellation here. The Middle Loire contains Anjou, Saumur, and Touraine. In Anjou, Chenin Blanc reaches its zenith, producing outstanding dry and sweet wines reminiscent of crisp apples dipped in honey. Cabernet Franc dominates red and rosé production here, supported often by Grolleau and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sparkling Crémant de Loire is a specialty of Saumur. Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc are common in Touraine as well, along with Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, and Malbec (known locally as Côt). The Upper Loire is Sauvignon Blanc country, home to the world-renowned appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Pinot Noir and Gamay produce bright, easy-drinking red wines here.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to create complex wines with many different layers of flavors and aromas, or to create more balanced wines. For example, a variety that is soft and full-bodied may be combined with one that is lighter with naturally high acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.