In the heart of the Anjou region of the Loire Valley, the historic town of Saumur’s traditional-method sparkling wines and beautiful architecture are both entirely products of the earth below it. About 90 million years ago, the sea receded from this area, and tuffeau (a type of limestone) formed from the marine fossils and sediment — this tuffeau is the predominent soil of the region, and nearly the entire town is built from it.
In the Middle Ages, an underground network of tunnels, called troglodytes, was dug out by hand. Nearly two thousand kilometers worth of them. There are more kilometers of passages underground than there are roadways above ground in Saumur. And just as the vignerons do in Champagne, the producers of methode traditionelle Saumur use these underground caves to make their sparkling wines.
The sparkling wine tradition in Saumur goes back to the early 1800′s, and by 1912 there were over 20 sparkling wine houses. The vineyards lie atop the tuffeau limestone, which lends to the grapes naturally high acidity. The tuffeau also contributes to the intense minerality that the best wines display. The grapes in this region are primarily Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon can be found locally as well. It seems that once these grapes come out of the ground and off the vine, they are destined to go beneath it.
GRATIEN & MEYER
In 1864, Alfred Gratien purchased a key piece of land known as “Le Petit Puy” in Saumur that was crucial to the development of the railways. The land happened to be chock full of old mining shafts that had been carved out in the 12th century, 10 kilometers of them in all. He founded a Champagne house in Epernay that year as well — it seems that bubbles was in his blood. 10 years later he met and partnered up with Albert Meyer, a wine enthusiast from Alsace. After Alfred passed away in 1885, the companies in the Loire and Champagne were placed the Meyer family’s hands.
Gratien & Meyer today is one of the most well-known producers of traditional Saumur. Average annual production is about 3 million bottles, covering nearly 10 different bottlings. Winemaker Nicolas Francois crafts classic Saumurs of freshness and weightlessness, with that unmistakeable tuffeau minerality.
2006 Brut Premium Millésimé
70% Chenin Blanc, 20% Chardonnay, 10% Cabernet Franc. Free-run and first press juice only. Meticulously blended, and cellars beyond the legal requirements in the limestone cellars, at a constant temperature of 12°C/53.6°F. Malo-lactic fermentation is impeded to promote freshness and energy in the final wine.
2009 Brut Premium Millésimé Rosé
80% Cabernet Franc, 20% Grolleau. Free-run and first press juice only. Meticulously blended, and cellars beyond the legal requirements in the limestone cellars, at a constant temperature of 12°C/53.6°F. No malo-lactic fermentation allowed.
NV Brut Rosé Cuvée Flamme
68% Cabernet Franc, 32% Grolleau. Free-run and first press juice only. Meticulously blended, and cellars beyond the legal requirements in the limestone cellars, at a constant temperature of 12°C/53.6°F. No malo-lactic fermentation allowed.
Vinecraft distributes Gratien & Meyer wines exclusively in Florida.