Another estate that we are fond of and that makes good wines every year is Chateau de Villeneuve in the Saumur Champigny appellation. We tasted a couple of 16’s (not yet bottled) and some 15’s at the Salon des Vins de Loire a couple of weeks ago with Jean-Pierre Chevallier.
The Clos de la Bienboire 2016 is aptly named after the map reference of the parcel from which the grapes are picked and means ‘the little walled vineyard of good drinking’! This parcel of 1,5 hectares produces an easy drinking style Cabernet Franc and the 2016 vintage is just packed with delightful, crunchy, Cab Franc raspberryness. A cold maceration and relatively cool fermentation retain all the fresh fruit flavours. It has lovely fresh acidity on the palate and a real concentration of fruit. Probably in bottle now it’s a lovely example of a fresh, early drinking Saumur Champigny with no oak influence.
At the other end of the spectrum is Le Grand Clos 2015 which comes from a superb parcel just above the chateau. This Cabernet Franc has a long maceration (while taking care not to extract any bitterness) and then is aged for 14 months in wooden tanks of 12hl (1200 litres). Packed with dark, rich, ripe fruit, it’s a little shy on the nose at present but has great structure on the palate with mid weight tannins and lovely freshness. It clearly needs time to soften and mature but has wonderful potential and will age nicely for 10 years.