2019 Antoine Sanzay Saumur-Champigny Les Poyeux11896
WINEMAKER: Antoine Sanzay
REGION: Loire Valley, FR
VARIETAL: Cabernet Franc
VITICULTURE: Certified Organic/Biodynamic
Antoine owns 4 hectares across two 50 year old parcels of this well sited vineyard, considered to be one of the finest in the appellation and also in the Clos Rougeard stable of vineyards. Chalky limestone and clay marl slopes on tuffeau stone base with sandy topsoil. Aged for 2 years in 3 year old ex-Chateau Latour barrels without racking. Lovely complex terrior driven nose with earthy minerality to the fore, a light perfume, stewed herbs, leathery funk, and background fruits. While Cabernet Franc’s varietal characteristics often dominate its wines, here you get a strong feeling that the vineyard is speaking over the top of everything else. Medium weighted there is lovely savoury sanguine minerality with earth, leather and dried red fruits dominating the silky suave palate. A mineral undercurrent remains ensuring freshness and the grainy Cab Franc tannins come and go. Cabernet Franc in shape but Burgundian in emotion.
Antoine moved the domaine over to organic farming from 2009 and is fully certified. He also uses some biodynamic practices. Use of copper, an often criticised practice of organics because it builds up in the soil, is kept to a minimum. On our first visit to the domaine the vineyard adjoining the house was like a meadow of wildflowers with vines growing in it and was alive with the buzz of healthy insect life. The grapes are hand harvested into 25 kilo crates before being transported to the winery for sorting and processing.
Perhaps it is the winemaking that most clearly distinguishes Antoine from other producers in his appellations. He works very close to nature in the cellar adding no yeast, no temperature control and sulphur at a minimum just before bottling, like many in the Loire. However, it is his fermentation philosophies that really set him apart. Antoine is inspired by great burgundies more than any other wine in France, as evidenced by the empty bottles around his cellar. So in his white he seeks lees reduction like the great wines of Meursault and Puligny and in the reds he wants “infusion” rather than extraction during the ferment.