Then onto the reds. Firstly the 2010 Domaine des Roches Neuves, Saumur-Champigny with its vivid, easy drinking primary fruit from a short maceration. This cuvée has been bottled, while the rest of the reds we tasted from barrel. The 2010 Franc de Pied from ungrafted vines has an attractively soft texture and very pure black fruit flavours.
We finished down in the Roches Neuves extensive and warren-like cellars where the still unbottled , richly opulent and complex 2009 Marginale was particularly impressive.
From Thierry Germain's Roches Neuves in Varrains we crossed from the south of the Saumur-Champigny appellation to the north that overlooks the Loire. To Jean-Pierre and Florent Chevallier's Château de Villeneuve in Souzay-Champigny. Jean-Pierre is a close friend of Thierry's and his wines continue to be among the top wines from the Loire, although JP's quality tends to get less media coverage than they deserve.
The new spring cuvée, 2010 Clos de la bienboire, is exactly what it is designed to be – deliciously, fruity. 2010 is the first commercial release, although JP made some in 2008 and 2009 as an experiment. The wine has no added sulphur, so needs careful handling and most of it will be sold locally. The 2009 domaine Saumur-Champigny is quite closed and tight needing time, so enjoy the Clos why this comes round. In contrast the floral and elegant 2009 Vieilles Vignes is more open and accessible. We finished with the finely structured 2009 Le Grand Clos with its silky texture. Presently closed in comparison to the VV, this has greater potential. Now 18€ a bottle from the domaine, it remains a bargain particularly in relation to Bordeaux wines of similar quality.
He spoke also of the influence on him of Charles Joguet, especially the wines from 1989 and 1990, which had convinced him of what was possible here.