FEATURED WINES

LOIRE, FRANCE

SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY LA CHAINTREE 2004 BY RENE-NOEL LEGRAND

3 bottles of Saumur-Champigny La Chaintree 2004 standing on a table.

Saumur-Champigny La Chaintree 2004 is the kind of over-performing red that savvy wine buyers and sommeliers are going to go out of their way to obtain.

There’s an argument to be made for the Loire Valley being the most exciting French wine region of all. Part of this owes to the sheer breadth and diversity of its offerings (the Loire river); and another key element is the near-incomparable value of wines that continue to rocket upward in quality.

This is a classic appellation and today’s interpretation of this region couldn’t be more graceful than by Clotilde & René-Noël Legrand.

Not just because Loire reds are having a moment but because this is a classic appellation and today’s interpretation of this region couldn’t be more graceful than by Clotilde & René-Noël Legrand.

Domaine René-Noël Legrand is as picturesque an estate as they come. Surrounded by vineyards and fields of grain, their 18th century home is only upstaged by their 15th century cellars—carved into the limestone chalk known as tuffeau.

This wine gets it done for just $35. To use another well-worn phrase, “La Chaintrée” truly is a wine that is grown, not made: Manual harvesting at its finest. Picked exclusively by hand, wine as good as this from the Loire is hard enough to find, but when you throw in the fact that it has been sitting in the winery’s cellar, in perfect aging conditions for 18 years and in its peak drinking window, you have yourself a winner!

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY

18/20 Points
Cuisine et vins de France, Sept/Oct 2006

Highly Recommended
Bettane & Desseauve 2008

SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY LA CHAINTREE 2004: CHARACTERISTICS

BODY /  STYLE / OAK / Medium-bodied / Warm and spicy, earthy, floral, fruity, mineral / Oaked

SWEETNESS / Extra Dry

CELLARING / Drink now or cellar

BEST PAIRINGS / Breads, Cured Meat, Hard Cheese, Red Meat, Roasted Vegetables

TASTING NOTE / A selection of the best plots from 35 to 50-year-old vines, La Chaintree is aged 24 months in neutral 500L oak barrels. This is a very pure expression of cabernet franc, showing chocolate, beautiful minerality and some riper herbal notes (nothing green here). Great structure and the balance here is excellent, which makes for a wine which is both intense, but light at the same time. The tannins are present, but ripe and well-coated. This is drinking beautifully now at 13 year-old but can still age for many more.

A LITTLE HISTORY

The estate comprises 14 hectares of Cabernet Franc and one hectare of Chenin Blanc planted along gentle slopes and hillsides of Saumur, Dampierre, Chacé, Varrains and Champigny.

These are some of the greatest terroirs of Saumur, rooted to the beneficial clay and limestone soils of the Cretaceous period formed nearly 90 million years ago. Tempered by Atlantic breezes, warmer winters and cooler summers keep this microclimate from experiencing temperature extremes.

Their vines average roughly 45 years of age, with the oldest vineyards planted in 1927.

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