The Loire Valley is an exciting place these days. The two new sources we discovered this spring have already gained fans among our readers — the Sancerres of Domaine de la Garenne, and the Chenin Blancs of Nicolas Paget. Today we’re excited to introduce a third — the Domaine des Sanzay in Saumur-Champigny.
Winemakers Celine and Didier Sanzay are fifth generation growers in Saumur Champigny. Their wines pure Cabernet Franc, and fit modern Loire style — small batch, organic, limited oak, concerned with balance and freshness rather than extraction and muscle. They use all wild yeasts, neither fine nor filter, and produce complex, natural expressions of the charming central Loire.
We’re starting with two of Sanzay’s reds, both intense, clean, and highly expressive Cabernet Francs. The first is the 2017 Saumur-Champigny, which shows a lovely balance between fruit and earth. The notes are rustic — violets, tobacco, cassis, and herbs — but with a sleek and lively mouthfeel. The papery tannins give it a gentle backbone, supporting the fruit in style.
The second is Sanzay’s old vine cuvée, the 2016 Saumur-Champigny Vieilles Vignes, from vines aged 50-110 years. This cuvée is denser and more refined, and the extra nine months’ élevage in oak barrels (all used, none new) has given it a smooth, velvety texture. The notes are more spiced and intense, and the finish much longer. We expect this to improve for 3-5 years, though it’s already very enjoyable.
These are interesting, expertly-made wines with a lot to say. Both substantially outperform their prices, and are bright, crackling alternatives to your everyday, catch-all Rhône red. Give them a try — we doubt you’ll be disappointed, and we guarantee you won’t be bored.
Sanzay Saumur-Champigny 2017
bottle price: $19
Sanzay Saumur-Champigny VV 2016
bottle price: $25
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