Château Yvonne - Saumur Champigny Rouge 2015
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It's our humble opinion at Cork Culture that Cabernet Franc from the Loire is one of the greatest and most undervalued wines in the world. The region is just starting to get noticed by Chinese and Hong Kong collectors due to Clos Rougeard, which thankfully leaves many other producers still swimming underneath the radar.
Matthieu Vallée is a benchmark producer in Saumur-Champigny, and while his whites are rare and exquisite, his main production is his Cabernet Franc. This is his flagship red, from 2 hectares of vines ranging from 5 to 80 years in age.
It's not vegetal at all, and comes across as refined and elegant, much like the other Yvonne wines. There's a purity to the fruit and a lovely depth to the structure despite the wine being completely ready-to-drink now. We've tasted it numerous times since it arrived and are honestly taken aback that it's open and delightful—although in the long run this is certainly a wine that will reward further ageing.
Annual Production: 6,000 bottles per year
Blend: 100% Cabernet Franc
Terroir: Clay/limestone soils over tuffeau stone
Winemaking: Native yeast fermentation in 38 hl foudres for 4 weeks. Malolactic fermentation occurs naturally during aging in oak (20% new barrels for 12 months)
Certification: Certified organic (Ecocert 1997)
Drinking Window: 2019-2030
Château Yvonne is an ancient estate that dates to the 16th century, and winemaking is part of its tradition since 1813, when a local winemaker moved in. But it wasn't until almost 200 years later in 1997 that Yvonne and Jean-François Lamunière decided to recreate the abandoned vineyard with the help of Françoise Foucault, of Clos Rougeard.
In 2007, Matthieu Vallée purchased the estate but kept the name of the winery out of respect to the incredible work done by the Lamunières. This is now one of best producers in Saumur alongside Clos Rougeard and Guiberteau, with 8 hectares of Cabernet Franc and 3 hectares of Chenin Blanc and 8 hectares of Cabernet Franc. Everything has been farmed organically (Ecocert certified) since 1997 and biodynamically since 2012.
Vallée uses native yeast fermentation only, and has no additions other than minimal SO2, slow malolactic fermentation, and minimal racking. All his wines are unfined and unfiltered, and are ambitious, long-living examples of the best of Saumur.