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While we have enjoyed tasting the Saumur-Champigny's of Antoine Sanzay in France, they have not been readily available in the US, so we are extremely happy to offer today two vintages of his top cuvée "Les Poyeux." Also on offer today is a wine first produced in 2016, "Les Terres Rouges," from vines grown in sandy clay/limestone soils, with a high conent of iron.
For those not familiar with the estate, here is a concise history from Ilya Smolenskiy of Michael Skurnik Wines:
"Antoine Sanzay is the seventh generation of the Sanzay family to farm vines in the village of Varrains. For most of the family’s history, they sold their grapes to the local cooperative, until Antoine came along and decided to take the domaine into a new direction. He joined the domaine full time in 1999, and slowly began ending the contracts with the co-op, only producing wine from approximately 40% of the vines he owned until 2013, when he was finally able to vinify all of his fruit. Today the estate comprises 11 ha of prime sites in the limestone haven of Saumur-Champigny, including 4 ha of the famed Les Poyeux lieu-dit. Antoine has long been known as one of the great farmers in the village and has been certified organic since 2014. The cellar work is very traditional, using only indigenous yeast for the fermentations and using cement or large foudre/barrels for the elevage. The results are Cabernet Francs that show unrivaled finesse and balance. Antoine’s reputation has grown to the point where his wines are extraordinarily allocated in France, and he is widely considered one of the finest growers in all of the Loire."
One of our favorite writers on all things Loire is Chris Kissack, "the Wine Doctor." This exerpt is from his excellent profile of Antoine Sanzay. (Subscriptions to "the Wine Doctor" are highly recommended.)
"It is always a delight to discover a new domaine of an unexpected level of quality and that was exactly what happened when I first tasted the wines of Antoine Sanzay. As with other appellations it is all too easy in Saumur-Champigny for younger, up-and-coming vignerons to be overlooked as everybody chases after the usual suspects, the obvious example of the latter in this appellation being Clos Rougeard. And yet, on tasting L’Expression, better known as Les Poyeux in more recent vintages, I was convinced that here we had a young vigneron turning out wines of comparable quality. The wines have the same tense substance, and in the case of Les Poyeux the same silky elegance.
Antoine has proven himself to be one of the most significant new names to have spring up in Saumur-Champigny in recent years. His commitment to his vines is plain for all to see, and his interventions in the cellar are only as required. He is also a charming, humorous, warm-hearted individual, who recognises the joy that wine can bring, and that wine is about people, vines, family, history and heritage, and not just how many points a bottle can score. He strives to make the very best from his vines, and always seems to work with humility. No wonder the wines here are so widely loved, by neighbours and locals, by his fellow vignerons, and of course by me"
(2018 was, of course, an excellent vintage for Loire reds, characterized by Matthieu Baudry as "Magnifique! ...complete and expressive throughout, with magnificent balance, the richness in alcohol framed by freshness and sapid length on the palate.")
Any lover of Loire Cabernet Franc should try these superb wines! (Arrival on or before 4/14, quantities are limited, normal case, mixed-case discount applies)
The 2018 Sanzay "Terres Rouges" is from 100% Cabernet Franc grown on clay and limestone terroir, with high iron content in the soil, certified organic. 50% whole-cluster fermentation with wild yeasts, fermented in concrete for 12 days, aged in concrete for 18 months. The 2018 boasts a dark ruby, verging on purple, robe. The nose is perfumed with aromas of violets, crushed blackberry, black currants, and loam. The palate is concentrated and displays firm, ripe tannins with black juicy fruits peeking from behind. There's a bit of black pepper, mouthwatering acidity on the finish. This offers nice flair in a sterner fashion than the Poyeux, but this has an energy of its own that is quite appealing. Decant if drinking now or cellar for 5-7 years and beyond for a more mature experience. The poise here is excellent and the the energy coiled within is intriguing. John McIlwain
Antoine Sanzay is making beautiful wines in Saumur-Champigny - his "les Poyeux" is "from two 2-hectare plots in the lieu-dit Les Poyeux, a vineyard best associated with the Foucault brothers of Clos Rougeard. The soils here are very thin, the vine roots digging deep into the limestone rock beneath, the resulting wine the most structured in the Sanzay portfolio. Fermentation and élevage in barrique for 18 months, without racking. The barrels are usually four or five years old, as Antoine is not looking for wood influence. Minimal sulphur dioxide additions only as deemed necessary. I remember my first time trying this wine, at Chez Panisse nearly ten years ago and it left a deep impression. I have always looked forward to tasting it since. This is excellent. There is some delicate red and black fruit, but it's really all about the savory here. It is redolent with violets, sage and wet river stones. There is substantial structure if you are thinking about cellaring this (and YOU SHOULD) and good acidity, especially considering the warmth of the vintage. This is truly my kind of Cabernet Franc. Sam Ehrlich