In the way that the general wine drinking public under-values Loire red wines, I think that us Loire lovers under-value the wines of Domaine Filliatreau. In Saumur-Chamigny, it's easy to pay attention to the great wines of Clos Rougeard and to ignore everyone else. My favorite producer in Saumur-Champgny, outside of Clos Rougeard, is Domaine Filliatreau. The wines deliciously express terroir and are modestly priced.
Filliatreau's is a large estate and there are many wines produced. Not all of these wines make it to the US, and those that do make it here are not widely available. They are worth looking for, though, particularly the two top wines, Grand Vignolle and Saumur-Champigny Vieille Vignes. And it is these two that I very rarely see, at least in the retail shops that I frequent. I love the Vieille Vignes, but the last vintage that I've seen here is 2005 -that was two years ago. I drank a lot of 2005 Grand Vignolle, didn't love the 2006, never saw the 2007, and liked the 2008 a year ago at a Dressner tasting.
I haven't seen Grand Vignolle on retail shelves in almost 2 years, but I am happy to tell you that Chambers Street is selling the 2007 right now, and the wine is in New Jersey too - who knows where else. If you like Cabernet Franc from the Loire and you haven't tried this wine, you honestly should make a point of buying this. I promise you, you will not be disappointed. If you are, email me and I'll send you a check*.
La Grand Vignolle is a large set of vineyards that runs alongside the Loire River in Saumur-Champigny. The vineyards are on a large hill of Tuffeau and other rock, and there are caves, and even houses built right into the stone. The vines for this wine are about 40 years old and the wine is typically intense and expressive without being too weighty.
2007 Domaine Filliatreau Saumur-Champigny La Grand Vignolle, $18, Louis/Dressner Imports. This is great wine! Right out of the wine fridge, it is all about cool dark fruit flavors and floral aromatics. As the wine warms, the iron and metal minerality takes over the bass line and the nose begins to show graphite and tobacco tones. Perfectly balanced and completely delicious, there is no shame in drinking this all up now. But the quiet old vine intensity, the substance that emerges in the mid-palate, the strong acidity...these things make me determined to put a couple bottles away for a few years.
*By "check," I mean a note of apology.
Thursday, October 07, 2010