2020 Antoine Sanzay Saumur Blanc Les Salles Martin14541
WINEMAKER: Antoine Sanzay
REGION: Loire Valley, FR
VARIETY: Chenin Blanc
VITICULTURE: Certified Organic/Biodynamic
4500 bottles produced from a single parcel of 1.1ha of 40 year old vines. Grapes are hand harvested, sorted in the winery and fermented by indigenous yeast before spending a year in a mix of 1000 litre oval foudres and used 600l demi-muids and then a further 6 months in stainless steel before bottling. Antoine’s admiration for the great whites of Burgundy sees him employ some of the same winemaking techniques such as prolonged lees aging, to give a touch of reduction, but also weight and layered complexity to his whites. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with a tiny dose of sulphur. With bright acidity and plenty of texture, ‘Les Salles Martin’ has vibrant citrus, lemon oil and quince on the nose. Coiled and filling on the palate, pear, peach and candied citrus fruit sit atop a fine mineral background. A bit of reduction and oak add a savory element. Superb!
Antoine is the 6th generation of winegrower in his family but the first to bottle his own wines. Up until he took over the farming in 1999, upon completion of his wine studies, the crop from the domaine was sold to local co-ops. With the encouragement of local mentors, including Romain Guiberteau and Nady Foucault (Clos Rougeard), Antoine slowly began keeping fruit back for his own production from 2002 and in 2014 he retained the entire production to satisfy the growing demand for his wines. Indeed Antoine worked at Clos Rougeard during his early years of wine training.
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. The results are spectacular with a Saumur Blanc that encompasses all the best elements of great Chenin Blanc and adds yet another layer of Burgundian complexity. The reds are strikingly pure, finely structured with enough silky tannins to build as they age but deliciously enjoyable now; at times they resemble great Pinot Noir in structure.