The rendering of Thierry Germain by renowned French wine artist Michel Tolmer that appears on most of Thierry’s labels is the perfect im...View full details
Domaine des Roches Neuves - Thierry Germain
DOMAINE DES ROCHES NEUVES
Biodynamic Saumur and Saumur-Champigny
In many ways, Thierry Germain is a producer that is extremely rare in the tiny Saumur-Champigny appellation; a grower producing wine of such quality that they demand the world sit up and take notice. And the style of wine produced here is not only totally unique, but has evolved significantly for the better in recent years. In short, at Domaine Des Roches Neuves, Germain has achieved for Cabernet Franc in Saumur what, for example, Francois Chidaine has achieved with Chenin in Montlouis; wines of swaggering texture, complexity and thrilling deliciousness made with a passion and outward looking mentality that has had a galvanizing effect on the region as a whole. In doing so Germain, himself inspired by the wines of the reclusive Foucault brothers at Clos Rougeard, has motivated small legion of local growers - no less than eleven producers have followed him into organic or biodynamic practices.
Since his arrival to the region in 1991 Germain has been hell-bent on producing, with Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc as the loudspeaker, an ultimate expression of this undoubtedly fine limestone-laced terroir. Biodynamic viticulture, ultra low yields and ‘hands off’ elevage are the order of the day here. Sure, with his attention to detail, miniscule yields and searching, cutting-edge technique, he’s shocked many a local and ruffled a few feathers along the way – but this is typical of so many avant-garde growers, especially those that have come from another region to make their mark (Germain came from Bordeaux). Those who follow the Loire closely would have already revelled in the wines delivered by Roches Neuves from the 2012 and 2013 harvests. These were the wines after all that led to this Domaine being awarded the much coveted three star rating by La Revue de Vins du France - only the fifth producer in the entire Loire Valley to achieve this rating (as of 2017 there are seven) and only the second grower in Saumur, along with Clos Rougeard. That makes Clos Rougeard and Domaine des Roches Neuves the only (predominantly) red wine producers with three star producers - all the other producers with a three star rating, with the exception of Alphonse Mellot, are exclusively white wine producers. Regardless, as impressive as the Roches Neuves wines of ’12 and ’13 were, and as surprising as it might sound, Thierry Germain’s 2014 and 2015 releases take the wines of this Domaine to another level.
For perspective on the evolution of the wine style here, I find the following anecdote instructive. Since Germain’s early days at Roches Neuves, his mentor and friend Nady Foucault of Clos Rougeard would often drop by to taste and comment on Germain’s new vintage wines. In the early years Foucault would share his wisdom over a glass of one of Germain’s cuvées and then move on. As the years progressed and Germain began to master his terroirs and refine his winemaking, Foucault would stay a little longer, indulging in two or three glasses. Nowadays, there is always a bottle or two that gets polished off. Foucault has been sending Germain a clear message and it was one well received. We feel sure that when these vignerons get together to taste the Roches Neuves 2014s and 2015s, they’ll end up making a night of it.