Domaine des Roches Neuves: An Iconic Loire Grower

Domaine des Roches Neuves: An Iconic Loire Grower

“Domaine des Roches Neuves is famous as a producer of wonderful biodynamic Saumur; Germain has for years been making some of the region’s more compelling wines.” Parr and Mackay, The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste
 
“The range of wines from Domaine des Roches Neuves has a transparency, delicacy, and ease that you encounter too infrequently. Red wine represents the majority of production at this estate with vineyards scattered around the appellation but a lightness of touch and purity of fruit are common threads no matter the soil type, or orientation.” Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous
 
“These days I think Thierry Germain has new, stronger and broader competition within Saumur-Champigny but his wines are still on the top tier in the appellation.” Chris Kissack, The Wine Doctor

Thierry Germain was not the first to illustrate that Saumur-Champigny could rival France’s most significant red wine regions—that privilege goes to the Foucault brothers—yet he was undoubtedly the most vocal and his message the most passionate and unguarded. Built on perfectly ripe fruit allied to a fondness for tension, Germain’s aromatic, beguilingly pure and lacy reds thrust Saumur into the spotlight, and there they have remained. Today’s wines, and those of growers who followed in his slipstream, grace the finest wine lists in France and beyond. To paraphrase Andrew Jefford, before Germain, few wine lovers knew that Saumur-Champigny could rival Burgundy for its aromatic intensity and finesse. Now they do.  

Germain’s white wines are a revelation in a region where wine-growing practices have not always done justice to superb stony terroirs. When he arrived in 1991, Germain deduced that Saumur’s most exciting whites derived from the region’s most calcareous soils—parcels where with only the thinnest topsoils, barely lining the pure limestone mother-rock beneath. He searched for sites that met this criterion, and today Roches Neuves commands a stellar portfolio of wines that marry ripeness and texture with energy, purity and salinity. Those who find themselves priced out of white Burgundy—which takes in most of us these days—will find much solace at the end of their corkscrew. 

Although no longer a newcomer, a visit with Thierry Germain is still like stepping into a whirlwind. You might think he has done it all, and yet this hyper-energetic vigneron retains his obsessive attention to detail and formidable wine-growing curiosity. Now joined by his daughter Jeanne—who runs the domaine’s stables and ploughing regime—and his son Louis, Roches Neuves’ 2021 release reminds us how lucky we are to work with this dynamic grower.  

From a cooler, later season that brought miserly yields, the reds are enthrallingly bright and engaging wines of spun-silk textures and ripe, Pinot-like delicacy. It is also worth noting that, though still taut and coiled in their youth, Germain’s wines have evolved to show more allure and openness on release. Pitched somewhere lovely between Rheingau and the Côte de Beaune, the 2021 whites are incisive, with powerful textures sculpted by racy acidities and limestone-derived freshness. We hope the notes below do the wines justice—whatever you choose, you are guaranteed something compelling and seriously delicious.

The Wines

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