DOMAINE DES ROCHES NEUVES, THIERRY GERMAIN, Varrains
Certified Biodynamic by Demeter, Natural
Serious wines are produced at this estate run by the charismatic Thierry Germain. His approach is closer to a Burgundy wine-maker than a typical Loire producer. This 50-acre domaine, situated in a superb viticultural location in the appellation of Saumur Champigny, has been a winery since 1850. Germain, from a long line of Bordeaux winemakers, arrived here in 1991, attracted by the region’s perfect balance of grape varietal, climate and terroir, which he considers one of the finest in France.
The vineyard is worked in a natural way with the goal of keeping the vine and the soil at its healthiest and Thierry has become a fully-fledged advocate of biodynamics. The harvest is manual, selecting grapes at their very ripest level. Vinification is handled in small batches with bottling unfined and unfiltered. Germain has garnered praise in the European press for his exciting wines, which are always filled with ripe, generous fruit and supple textures.
Revue du Vin de France – Michel Bettane “One of the elite wine-growers, (Germain) gathers exceptionally ripe grapes which give a unique smoothness and velvety texture to his wines…. One might think that Thierry Germain was going to take a break. Indefatigable, he continues to progress in refining each of his cuvées. All of his wines are superb, but not easy to obtain because the demand for them is so great.”
Painstaking attention to detail: the grapes are selected at optimum maturity to create suave, velvety, plump wines.
The Cuvée Marginale is a selection of the best grapes (tiny yields of 25hl/ha) put into barriques neuves, a felicitous amalgam of Bordeaux and Loire styles. The vines for the Marginale are situated on the superb clayey-limestone soil of Fosse de Chaintrés. This cuvée is only made in the best years when the grapes achieve a minimum of 13 degrees alcohol. Yields for the Marginale are a miniscule 25hl/ha; the grapes are macerated for 30-35 days, then the wine is placed in new oak to undergo malolactic fermentation. It will mature for 18-24 months depending on the vintage.
Saumur-Champigny Cuvée Marginale Revue du Vin de France: “This wine is always held back for a year and only made in exceptional vintages. It is produced from the ripest grapes at harvest and aged in new barrels (400 litre). Very concentrated, it merits an ageing of 5 years.” The yield for this intense wine is only 25 hectolitres/hectare coming from southern-exposed hillside vineyards. This grand wine is powerful yet elegant, structured like a top Bordeaux.
Every year we see an evolution in Thierry’s wines. They possess finer bone structure and less obvious oak influence, they challenge the palate with their energy. This is the move to natural winemaking.
‘Thierry Germain, Meilleur vigneron de l’année 2011 (Winegrower of the Year)’ Revue des Vins de France, 2011