Chateau de Chaintres is a special place for me. It encompasses all of the fantasies of old world wineries that I have imagined throughout the years. It is old and full of fascinating history; it is surrounded by a clos built by monks; it has cellars that are accessible through a robust and thick iron cage down a precarious yet sturdy set of seemingly ancient steps; it has been passed down generation to generation; and most importantly, they produce stunning wines that are notoriously age-worthy. I did not yet mention that it has a winemaker at the helm that has that extremely contagious passion, and follows a very unique yet completely sensible set of rules determined by the cycles of the moon. Never the less, this place will always be special to me, and this is possible no doubt, because of their ability to release wines of a special character that hold on for years. The most recent tasting I enjoyed was a bottle of their 1989 Saumur-Champigny that still expressed freshness and a long life ahead. The estate is owned and managed by Gael de Tigny who grew up on the estate and has been overseeing operations for over 40 years while his daughter Elizabeth has now taken the reigns as the Estate Manager at a time when the reputation of their Chateau is growing at a rapid rate - awards and rave reviews becoming a common achievement.
When I visit Chateau de Chaintres I am always excited to spend time with their winemaker, Richard Desouche, as he is always overwhelmingly inviting and carries an energetic charm like few others. Tasting through the wines can become a lengthy evening as there is much to cover, and Richard has a lot to say. Since 2007 Chateau de Chanters has been farmed organically and is Certified as such for all of their wines from the 2013 vintage forward. As well as being farmed organically, as I mentioned earlier, Richard also strictly follows the moon calendar. This is not to be mistaken for biodynamics, as they are completely different. The process of adhering the the calendar of the moon can not be explained simply, however, I will put it like this. Some days are better for planting, some days are better for harvesting, and some days are better for tasting. This all follows the cycle of the moon as it moves either toward or away from the earth. For example, if you are going to plant new vines, you want to do so while the moon is moving toward the Earth, as this is thought to add extra force downward helping the vines establish their root system, this is a simple example but it displays the idea. This can be taken lightly or seriously, although in my experience, any winemaker/viticulturalist that is going to go to the lengths of following such strict schedules and employ such a detailed set of techniques, well, they are going to end up with beautiful grapes come harvest time, and usually a great wine will follow. This is undoubtedly the case with Chateau de Chaintres as their wines are absolutely impressive and show a distinct character and precise terroir from top to bottom. When discussing winemaking with Richard, he insists on taking a very hands off approach, only monitoring the wines while they create themselves so to speak, even though I know there is so much more to it than that. Richard insists that interfering too much will only take character away from the wines and I can not find an argument as there is no shortage of character in his lineup. Fermentations are completed with indigenous yeast and red wines go through a long maceration with gentle extraction, generally using a minimal schedule of pumping over, this shows through with the firm yet ripe tannins and long lasting structure that the estate is somewhat known for, considering their reputation for long lived and seemingly ever improving wines. Barrel aging is completed in barrique that are generally second or third fill, adding only a light and elegant touch of spice to the finished wine. These wines speak to the Sommelier and enthusiast alike as they come with a grand story that can create a personal attachment before their even tasted, but once they are, they blow past any and all expectation.
Chateau de Chaintres Cremant de Loire - Blanc de Noir
100% Cabernet Franc
Chateau de Chaintres Cremant de Loire is a sparkling wine that I could enjoy every single day. It is the perfect balance of structured and deep, yet absolutely gulp-able. Completely dry with 3g per litre of residual sugar, and a refreshing acidity, it is a wine that acts as the perfect aperitif, or a wonderful pairing with your favourite seafood dish, perhaps the perfect partner for fish’n’chips. There is something about a Blanc de Noir made from Cabernet Franc that I adore, perhaps the fruity nose of fresh apples and citrus with a wonderful herbal lift that pairs so well with food. A stunning value that can easily replace many NV Champagnes at a fraction of the cost. Certified Organic and labeled as such.
Chateau de Chaintres Clos de Oratoriens Saumur Blanc 2013
100% Chenin Blanc
The 2013 Clos de Oratoriens Saumur Blanc is a wine with considerable weight and richness, yet somehow refreshes the palate all at once. Oh the marvels of Chenin Blanc. Made from very old vines surrounded by a rather ancient wall, this wine has been fermented and aged in barrel which perhaps adds to its depth and round texture. Aromas of peach and citrus zest jump out at the onset with steel wool and sweet spice creeping in and a hint of orange blossom. This is a wine that can be used as an exciting food partner and also offers outstanding value as it could easily be stored for years to come and reward your patience heavily. Recently awarded a bronze medal at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards.
Chateau de Chaintres Clos de Oratoriens Saumur Champigny 2011
100% Cabernet Franc
Chateau de Chaintres produces exceptional Cabernet Franc vintage after vintage. The 2011 Clos de Oratoriens is certainly no exception. Powerful aromatics and a structure built to last, this wine is truly crafted for the serious wine enthusiast and will be a favourite of many Sommelier. Vines over 80 years old provide the fruit that is picked when phenolically ripe and treated gently in the winery, extracting slowly and softly allowing the flavours to develop without becoming overwhelming. The aromas are dark berries and ripe cherries, savoury spice and cured meat with a lavender twist. The palate is dense but not heavy and the finish is long and tempting. This wine could be aged for many years or enjoyed immediately as it is not austere but structured. Recently awarded a silver medal at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards.