Chateau de Chaintres has the terroir: classic tuffeau chalk, clay-limestone, and sandy soils right in the heart of the appellation. They have old vines (50+ years). They have a new winemaker devoted to biodynamics, who worked on many of our favorite Loire Valley wines as the right-hand man at Philippe Gilbert. Chaintres makes two cuvées, an old vine and a basic Saumur-Champigny. They're from similar terroirs, and they’re both made with a light touch and minimal sulfur (only at bottling to keep the wine stable for shipping). Sure enough, the wines have a lot in common. Both are fresh, have beautiful fruit and floral notes (like crushed roses), with earthy undertones. Both have integrated tannins that don’t get in the way of enjoyment of the wine. But the old vines dig really deep, giving us much more of the terroir. There’s a salty, savory edge to this wine, a hint of licorice complexity. And there’s more… of everything. More of the cassis. More of the crushed roses. More dark fruit and more earth. More nose, more density and more length.
What importer Rosenthal Wine Merchant has to say about this wine...
It’s not every day we are presented with the opportunity to purchase 30-year-old Saumur-Champigny, perfectly stored since its inception, at a very reasonable price. This wine, from the great 1989 vintage, is truly a transmission from a different era. In those less technologically equipped times, wines like this were more common: wines unabashedly wild and structured, unafraid to intimidate those presumptuous enough to open them before significant cellaring. Far more press wine was used in the final blends back then, contributing a granular, analog heft as well as a boatload of tannins that only years can tame. This 1989 was aged in enormous old foudres which still line a chamber of the château’s impressive underground labyrinth, and it has been resting in bottle at a constant ambient temperature for nearly three decades. It’s a living testament of Loire Cabernet Franc’s ability to rival in power and longevity its urbane southern cousin, Bordeaux, and its intoxicating swarm of secondary and tertiary aromas is both awe-inspiring and true to its terroir. In fact, the family was kind enough to give us a bottle after our second visit, and we opened it the next day with Philippe Foreau—but served it to him blind. After about 30 seconds, Philippe, a legendary taster, bulls-eyed the wine, correctly guessing both vintage and appellation. We were duly impressed, of course, but it also reassured us that this well-aged soldier still wore its place of origin clearly, with fruit still vigorous and precise. Perhaps unsurprisingly, supplies are painfully limited, but it is a profound pleasure to be able to present a wine as such this.