THIERRY GERMAIN (DOMAINE DES ROCHES NEUVES) SAUMUR CHAMPIGNY 'CUVEE DOMAINE' 2018
Now, if Joguet was the finest producer of Cabernet Franc back in the 1970s and 80s–and continues to vie for that title today–the prime opponent would be Saumur-Champigny's Thierry Germain. A Bordeaux native that picked up and moved North on a whim, Thierry makes some of the most elegant, even Burgundian expressions of Cabernet Franc that we have ever tasted. They are among the most underappreciated wines in all the world of truly great French wine. His approach to farming is meticulous, and like Joguet he makes dozens of wines, each with a particular terroir to highlight.
Again as with Joguet, Germain's 2018 'Cuvée Domaine' is red-fruited with notes of damp earth, rose petal, and pencil shaving. Solidly medium bodied with super smooth tannins, this for us represents the platonic ideal for what Cab Franc should taste like. It's as drinkable as good Beaujolais but with the gravitas of great Bordeaux. And that is not only the signature of the estate and its particularly talented winemaker, but also of the terroir of Saumur-Champigny, which produces some of the most substantial and complex expressions in all of the Loire.
Though Thierry makes many wines, his Cuvée Domaine is unique in that it represents a blend of young-vine fruit from all of his best vineyard sites, scattered across the village. Because of this, the resulting wine benefits from a wide variety of exposures and soil types, making it a truly complete window into the real terroir of Saumur. Farming is biodynamic. And, in terms of winemaking, Thierry places great importance on the concept of infusion over extraction. The emphasis is on elegance, rather than heft. The resulting wine is as elegant as Cabernet Franc can possibly hope to be.