Saumur – Le Puy Notre Dame -The closest village to La Grande Maison and it has just obtained it's own appellation for the red wines after 30 years of battling for recognition. The vines grow on the slopes around the hillside which are dominated by it's spectacular collegiale church which is on the route St Jaque de Compastella.
Chateau de Fosse Seche - Is situated in Brossay on the outskirts of Le Puy Notre Dame. Owned and run by the Keller Family. The Chateau originally belonged the the Priory of Montreuil Bellay and has had a tradition of viticulture for 8 centuries. Organically run the estate has 45 hectares in total on clay/flint soil. 17 hectares are planted under vine with the surrounding land planted with sunflowers, alfalfa, cosmos and other wild flowers The woods also create a wide bio diversity. Produce excellent Saumur reds, whites, rose, sweet and an exceptional vins de pays La Maginelle (chardonnay grape). The wines here are to be found in many *** star Michelin restaurants in London.
Domaine de la Reniere - Les Caves. The Gay family have been making wine in the Puy Notre Dame area since 1631 and what devine wine it is. Currently Rene Hugues Gay is the winemaker his father was also called Rene and his father before that, their names might not be original but the personality of the character and the wines certainly are.
Clos de la Cerisaie is a single-vineyard Cabernet Franc from 30 year-old vines grown without fertilizers or chemicals and is just down the road from us on Rue de la Cerisaie (The Cherry Tree). The wine is aged on the lees for 3 month to enhance complexity and character. The 2005 chenin blanc is stunning, fresh and crisp, full of fruit and will keep until 2025. Only 5 minutes walk from the house.
Chateau Tour Grise
Francoise and Phillippe Gourdon have 15 hectares of cabernet franc, 5ha of chenin blanc and with those two grape varieties make a wide range of winestyles. The vineyards are on two very different soils, one Turonian, the other Jurassic, the difference in taste is strongly evident.
The vineyards are biodynamic, preparations of nettle tea are used for example and grasses and flowers are encouraged between the rows. In fact there are more than 200 different plants between each row. Consequently there are dozens of insects, bothe pests and predators which actively balance each other out. The biodynamic methods continue in the winery where, for example, no sulphur is used for the sparkling Saumur Brut.
Francoise and Phillippe Gourdon say ‘We have more and more problems achieving AOC accreditation as do many biodynamic winemakers. Paradoxically, the more natural the method of winemaking , the more the wines reflect the real identity of the soil, the less likely they are to get the appellation ! The only freedom allowed to us by French legislation to create a new style of wine is through the range “zéro pointé”.’ Zero Pointe are a range of extraordinary wines made by an extraordinary winemaker.
Phillippe is an individual with unique ideas and creates the unthinkable which is extremely drinkable. Take his latest sparkling adventure, no secondary fermentation takes place, so how does he get the bubbles in the bottle? Easy, he catches the CO2 given off during the first fermentation in an enormous balloon then pumps it back into the wine immediately before bottling!
The Zero Pointe range are low in alcohol, 8.5% making them very easy drinking.
Ironically Phillippe was a major player in fighting to get an independent appellation for Le Puy Notre Dame. The reds can now be labelled Appellation Saumur Puy Notre Dame, reflecting the distinctive terroir of the vineyards surrounding this hilltop village.
Thirteen hectares (approx 32 acres) of chenin blanc and cabernet franc are grown and vinified organically by owners Sophie and Guillaume Reynouard.
The Manoir was built in 1649, the Reynouard family have been in Le Puy Notre Dame since 1995. Le Puy Notre Dame has very recently received new AOC status and red wines withn the area are now referred to as ‘Appellation Saumur Puy Notre Dame Controlee’.
The vines at Manoir de la Tete Rouge are all grown with maximum concern to the environment, the flora and fauna (and the consumer) with minimal chemical intervention. There are no manufactured yeasts added to the grape must, all the yeasts are found naturally on the grape skin.
The wine styles range from still whites and reds, both oaked and unoaked are available, also rose and a sparkling white Saumur Brut.
Our favourite :
2005 cabernet franc, not yet bottled, available end 2008.
Tasted Feb 2008, just after the malo lactic fermentation had finished. My notes just said ‘fantastic’.