“Clos Rougeard” Blanc: The Greatest Cult White Wines in France. Period
Posted on: 04/4/18 4:09 PM
No, this Domaine does not have the history or legacy of a name like Huët or Philippe Foreau, but I’d venture to say that the white wines produced here are the greatest produced in all of the Loire, and among the greatest wines produced not only in France, but the world. The son of one of the Clos Rougeard brothers (Chrly’s son Antoine) has created a white wine analogue to his father’s monumental achievement with the reds. They possess every attribute you would want in a world-class wine: length, power, minerality, balance, ageability, and sheer deliciousness. I would say more, but I don’t think I need to. These wines speak so voluminously for themselves, I am simply going to tell you to buy them.
You will only regret not having them in your cellar; and I am now on record saying so.
2009 Domaine du Collier Saumur Blanc
2014 Domaine du Collier Saumur Blanc
25-75 year old vines not from Charpentrie. The estate Saumur is mostly from the vineyard of La Riapaille. As a proponent of natural viticulture and winemaking, Antoine uses no chemical fungicides or fertilizers on the vines, and all harvesting is done by hand. In the cellar the wines are pressed off and barreled down and then left alone until they are ready. No racking, no SO2, no added yeast, etc. Antoine is a patient man and the wines often spend between 24-36 months élevage.
2014 Domaine du Collier Saumur Blanc “Charpentrie”
100+ year old vines from Brézé. Winemaking is the same as the regular blanc; this is the wine of the Domaine and one of the great wines of France.
2014 Domaine du Collier Saumur Rouge “la Ripaille”
30 to 60 year old vines. La Riapille always produces a wine of huge acidity and brightness; high-toned and seductive red fruits and great length make this wine a stunning example of Loire Cab Franc.
More about the Wines:
At the turn of the last century – 1900 – the greatest white wines of France, according to one of the leading food and wine writers at the time were the following: d’Yquem, Château Grillet, Montrachet, Château Chalon and Coulée de Serrant. Now today’s wines do not hail from any of these estates or appellations, but I wonder if many people today would include a Chenin Blanc among the greatest white wines of France. Burgundy and Champagne take up much of the oxygen, while the noble appellations of regions like the Loire – Savennières, Vouvray, Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé – seem to exist in most people’s minds like sources for great value.
And, indeed, there is incredible “value” to be had.
But “value” warps perception. Somehow, one does not feel as if he is drinking a marquee wine unless it is priced as such. Thus, many of us would likely crawl across glass to get a thimble of DRC’s Montrachet or Coche’s Corton-Charlemagne, but we only smile at the presence of a well-aged Dagueneau, Foreau or Huët wine on the table. Somehow accessibility and reasonableness of price makes world-class wines seem, well, less world-class.
Strange as it is, perception matters, and, often, perception makes the experience. Well, let me be help you accurately perceive these wines. Domaine du Collier is – bluntly – making some of the greatest wines not just in France, but in the entire world. Antoine Foucault, son of Clos Rougeard’s Charly Foucault, has somehow transplanted the magic of what Clos Rougeard conjured with Cabernet France to Chenin Blanc. (All of this is despite the fact that Rougeard makes a tremendous Blanc and Collier a remarkable Rouge.)
But if Clos Rougeard is the DRC of Cabernet Franc, Collier is the Coche of Chenin Blanc.
The wines possess an absolutely riveting counterbalance between opulence and rigor, minerality and intensity, length and breadth, purity of expression and sheer power. The mind-boggling complexity combined with sheer deliciousness is a quality only the greatest wines in the world have, and among which these wines clearly stand. How high is my regard for these wines? At a recent tall dinner in France, the capstone wine of the evening was a 2011 Collier Charpentrie, following after a 2001 Bonneau du Martray, 2011 Coche-Dury, 2002 Lafarge, and 2009 Roumier. Not hard acts to follow!
Simply put, you would be foolish to overlook these wines. Already impossible to find in France, and eagerly gobbled up in smarter corners of New York and San Francisco, it’s only a matter of time before our relatively small allocations grow ever smaller. Run, don’t walk; and run fast.
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