A classification, vintages and impressions of Loire reds

Above Roches Neuves for me. But i am also big fan boy :grin:. (So second tier for me)

But I like the wines better than Roches Neuves and the domaine is truly consistent. Every vintage is good from what I tasted.


You’re both absolutely right - I had completely forgotten about that one, a glaring omission on my part. For now, I’ve put it in level 3, simply because I think we need a few older vintages to be really sure it’s on the second level. Also, perhaps I’ve had more older Roches Neuves, and the older Mémoires or especially the FDP are hard to beat in that style. But thanks for pointing it out!

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I’m interested in learning more about La Porte Saint-Jean.

If someone has time, could someone outline the differences between the regular Saumur-Champigny, Les Pouches, and Les Cormiers?

How would you describe the producer’s style?

I never had them side by side and my sample is very limited. And as I had been pigheadedly ignoring Loire for years - something I regret and I am working hard to correct - I never had one with some age. The estate is relatively new, I am reading that les Pouches has an even shorter track record.

But as it happens, I have Les Cormiers 2020 in the decanter right now. Similar impression as with les Pouches 2020 last winter: pretty tight and closed at first, should open a bit on day 2 and 3. Spectacular nose, promising more than the palate delivers at this stage. A typical cabernet franc profile: dark berries, (noninstrusive) bell peppers, soil, a trace of smoke and salinity. Wood already integrated. Saumur last year was more open, fruit rather red than black, a bit of bitter chocolate. Already enjoyable, all should be spectacular with some age.

Off-topic: les Pouches blanc is stellar, skip le Perlee and go for the real thing. There is also a sparkling rose.

The wines sell. A friend itb reports that the winemaker only deals with people he likes.


Just to add a bit on La Porte Saint Jean:

Dittière destems his reds at harvest and does a 6-week maceration before racking into barrel for malolactic. His vinification is a “grapes-only” process—that is, no added yeasts, enzymes, sulfur or any additive other than the fruit itself. And he performs neither punch-downs nor pump-overs, letting the juice quietly infuse as it ferments. The cellar at La Porte Saint Jean is a hidden marvel. Above ground, it’s a modest country home. Below, it’s a subterranean series of galleries carved out of the mother rock, dating back to the 13th Century. What’s more: it maintains the ideal temperature year-round. There, even his whites undergo extended aging in used barriques and 500-liter casks.

This gives a good idea about the approach.

The nose is always magical! The base Saumur, as mentioned above, more red fruited.

There is often a bit of funk and brett when opened (I love that). But with some air they always clean up nicely.

What I find really amazing is how every vintage manages to keep acidity and abv in balance. Always lowish abv without being green or lacking depth in the fruit profile. The 2015 Saumur clocks in at 12,5% abv!

And thats the oldest I had. A Saumur-Champigny 2015 one year ago. It was drinking amazingly and still very young and fruit driven. These wines will last! 30 years? Who knows as only minimal sulfites are added, but 10-20 probably no problem.

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I’ve only tried a couple of Les Cormiers, but the style is very much new breed, crisp fruit, so similar to Antoine Sanzay with a nod to the Godfather of this style, Thierry Germain. Apart from the ageing (which I’m quite confident about), my only other doubt concerns bottle variation, which I’ve heard about and experienced myself with the Pouches white.

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I have not tried the whites, but tried 10+ bottles of the reds from 2015-2020. Only issue i had was one bottle with TCA.

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The Beaugrands that Dittière released in 2013 was lights out good.


Thank you everyone for the info. Very interesting to hear the comparison to A. Sanzay (whose wines I like a lot). Will definitely explore La Porte Saint Jean more.

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Had the Baudry les Grezaux 2015 this weekend - recent cellartracker notes are quite consistent with my impression: it’s still typical of loire cab franc (one sniff and my wife said, “is this loire?”), but a touch riper than I would have expected (combination of red fruits and bellpepper). Still lighter bodied and labels says 13%. Very enjoyable. Kept a portion in the bottle, but nose had evolved a bit too much for my liking.

A random grab from an Auchun somewhere in the Loire. Well, maybe not that random: that was the priciest Saumur on the shelf, and who doesn’t like Red Robins. An absolutely correct and thoroughly enjoyable CF. There are much worse ways to blow 6.50 Eur.


My two recent highlights have been:

Domaine de la Cotelleraie - L’Envolée - Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil 2006

Still very youthful and spritely, this had a lovely bouquet of plums and violet, with some cranberry and herbs. A very Pomerol-like mouthful, so plums and blackcurrants, very smooth, quite full-bodied, with a wonderfully long, vibrant finish. Over three nights it got even better, really deliciously complex and fun to drink. 93 to 94 pts

Château du Hureau - Lisagathe - Saumur-Champigny 2015

Quite a floral bouquet at first, mostly peonies, but then red berries and leather. In the mouth plenty of red fruit at first, ripe but not overripe, lush but not cloying, then it calms down with a cooling wave of crisp blackcurrant that gives it great elegance, before chalky minerals mixed with chewy, but rounded tannins give it structure and a sense of purpose. Made in a classical style, this is approachable now but in the future, this will be outstanding. 90 pts now but an easy 95 or more in the future.

Both these producers are well worth trying. I’m increasingly impressed by Domaine de Cotelleraie, whose wines age beautifully. I’m less familiar with Château du Hureau - my only Lisagathe before this one was a slightly disappointing 2009, but I’ve had some excellent Févettes, one of their other cuvées.

They’re both excellent value - at between 20 and 25 euros normally, including older vintages at auction.

It was interesting to dip into the 2015 vintage: I’m really confident about these wines in the future. Yes, they are ripe, but not overripe. For me the 2015s I have tried so far are like a cross between 2009 and 2010 and probably better than both. They have more depth and character than the 09s, with a rounder feel than the 2010s.


We can always discuss style preferences. I love these wines, it is no secret. Some might not.

But what I am even more amazed by is the consistency in style and quality, no matter the vintage. What a talented winemaker. After having tasted a few vintages now I would not hesitate to buy any vintage from the producer. Even in recent warmer vintages they manage to produce intense but light wines with low abv and high’ish acidity without sacrificing the fruit concentration.

It has all the traits of a top domaine in my book.


Cormiers is double the price of the pouches in the uk - worth it?

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Exactly what I was thinking :grinning:

I only tasted Cormiers once. If you want to drink it young, probably not. The base Saumur-Champigny is of such a high level that for early consumption it is the best bang for the bucks.

With age? I don’t know yet. I will tell you in 5-10+ years :sweat_smile:

But I do buy Cormiers in hope of it being magical with time.

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The only issue with La Porte Saint Jean is that of the prices, which have gone up a lot. Les Cormiers used to be around 30€, it’s now around 50€. The other cuvées have risen too. It’s not that I begrudge him the increases - the quality is very high - but the cat is out of the bag now and won’t be getting back in. I think prices will rise further as the reputation grows, which again is fine, but there are other choices for a bit less.

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I don’t think the prices will go up too much anymore. They seem to sit a bit longer now, making them very attainable.

I happily pay current prices and even more. But they also hit a sweet spot for me that I haven’t found at other estates (at least with the same consistency).

I hope you’re right about the prices - it’s true that the wines are much easier to find now. Some other producers are also increasing prices - Alliet, for example, although theirs are still reasonable, and Joguet, whose prices are flirting with the same 50€ level as Porte Saint Jean.

One producer which hasn’t increased is this one:

Olga Raffault - Les Picasses - Chinon 2015

The nose is a beguiling blend of rose, graphite, violet and strawberry, very appealing indeed. In the mouth, the attack is full of ripe, but not overripe, red berries, leaning towards red cherry and redcurrant, then comes a subtle wave of blackberry, very persistent, before other tastes of strawberry and blackcurrant hit the long finish, which is slightly chalky and green, so refreshing rather than cloying. Fantastic charm and elegance. Drinking well now, but with a long future.

Out of curiosity, I compared it to this:

Domaine du Bel Air - Les Marsaules - Bourgueil 2015

Very fruity nose, full of black cherry, violet and blackcurrant. The attack is perky and winsome, with lots of black cherry and dark raspberry, quite rich but not overdone. Midpalate it doesn’t really go anywhere else yet, and the finish is very sappy and fresh. In terms of style, it’s like a cross between a traditional CF and a Roches Neuves one - the attack made me think of a ripe Villeneuve, the finish is like a Roches-Neuves. Very enjoyable, but not for everyone I think.

Trying them together was interesting - the Marsaules was flashier, the Picasses more subtle. As time went on, the Picasses pulled away very comfortably - it was just a lot more impressive.

The Picasses cost 14 euros, the Marsaules 19 euros. The Picasses 2017 is onsale at the domain at 15 euros, the most recent Marsaules costs 30 euros.

My jury is still out concerning Domaine du Bel Air’s wines. I like the concentration and fruit but I’ve yet to encounter any real complexity. All the wines I have tried have been quite young so this doesn’t mean they won’t develop well. I certainly think that Les Marsaules is the best one to try if you don’t know them. I haven’t really noticed a big enough quality difference in Grand Mont and Clos Nouveau yet - apart from increased concentration and body, especially since the latter cost 50 and 100 euros respectively,

Olga Raffault’s offer at the domain is incredible: you can still get the 09 and the 10 for 23 euros a bottle. There is also the Singulière 14 and 15, at 20€ and 19€. I still prefer the Singulière to Les Picasses, but the 2015 was a lot more impressive than the 09 or 10. Anyway, in terms of value for money, I don’t think Raffault can be beaten by any other Loire producer.


Aha, you’ve finally come around!


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