A personal recommendation from a wine expert is definitely to be sniffed it – and tasted. So, when I received a tip about wines from Saumur’s Domaine Filliatreau, I didn’t hesitate.
Top of their list was Domaine Fillatreau, which is about 6km south of Saumur, where we were staying.
The vineyard is owned by Paul Filliatreau, who inherited it from his father in 1967. Back then, the vineyard comprised just 8 hectares. Now it’s 40.
At that time, rosé wine was the house speciality. That was before Cabernet Franc became more celebrated. Now the vineyard produces far more red wine than rosé (or white).
Paul doesn’t sell his wines directly from the original vineyard. Instead, La Grande Vignolle, a 6-hectare vineyard that he bought in the 1990s, serves as the showroom.
It’s easy to see why. The house is on the site of a 12th-century village of caves built into the local tuffeau limestone.
We sought out this shop window for the vineyard and enjoyed a tasting there. The guy offered to do it in English for us, but we refused. Doing it in French felt more authentic somehow and besides, we both speak French well enough to follow a topic so familiar to us.
“Ageing the wine in a style you might expect of a Bordeaux has become increasingly popular in the Loire”
We worked our way through the whites, and bought a couple of bottles of Saumur Blanc, made of Chenin Blanc, before starting on the reds.
We came away with a couple of bottles of the Lena Filliatreau cuvée, a Cabernet Franc from the Saumur Champigny AOC. Our favourite, though, was the L’Affûtée, another Cabernet Franc but this time made from vielles vignes dating back 50 to 90 years, and aged for 18 months in oak.
If you think of Cabernet Franc as a light, sometimes crunchy red, think again. Ageing the wine in a style you might expect of a Bordeaux has become increasingly popular in the Loire.
It’s easy to tell the difference at the vineyard or even on the shelves of a supermarket: price. These wines have had more care and attention lavished on them than the more straightforward, fruit-driven wines and that is reflected in the cost.
We have laid down a couple of bottles of L’Affûtée. We’ll save those for another occasion – one when we will be able to sit back and remember a very pleasant hour spent at Domaine Filliatreau.