Domaine Guiberteau

Pulsating Organic Saumur from the “Rougeard for a new generation.”

When a great winegrower recommends you look at a fellow vigneron's wares, our rule of thumb is to go for it... tout suite. Back in 2012, we ended up visiting a young grower in Saumur who was said to be doing something pretty special at his ancestral estate. The tip-off was indeed a good one, and we are delighted to represent Domaine Guiberteau in Australia.

Riding the crest of a new wave, Romain Guiberteau has emerged as one of Saumur’s brightest talents. Much like Stéphane Moreau in Chablis, Guiberteau gave up a promising career outside the realm of wine to return to his family’s vineyards where he was fortunate to inherit a patrimony of top-notch, old-vine holdings spread across the communes of Montreuil-Bellay, Épieds and some wonderful parcels in Saumur’s de facto grand cru of Brézé including the historic Clos des Carmes.

Guiberteau was mentored by local legend Nady Foucault of Clos Rougeard fame and has been equally inspired by Thierry Germain of Domaine des Roches Neuves. He is also a very good friend of Benjamin Dagueneau, another producer that has influenced his work. The inspiration provided by these great growers, plus the sheer quality of Guiberteau’s brilliant sites, is reflected in his penetrating, intense whites and reds. The whites are some of the most refined and snowflake-pure renditions of Chenin Blanc that we have tasted while the reds take Cabernet Franc to a rare level of elegance and texture. In short, a profound lineup from one of the most exciting of the Loire’s young turks. Surely, at last, a new age of Saumur is upon us!

“Romain Guiberteau’s hedonistic winemaking style is increasingly earning him a reputation as Rougeard for a new generation.” Jon Bonné

In the field, Guiberteau practices the type of ‘living soil’ viticulture that we have come to expect from France’s finest growers – no pesticides, no herbicides, no chemicals of any sort. Hand-harvesting is of course the norm here. This minimalist approach is carried through to the winemaking, with no yeast (or other additions) and no fining or filtration.

The winemaking is based on enigmatic talent: Guiberteau is partly self-trained, combined with the guidance of his mentor Nady Foucault of Clos Rougeard. While one imagines this is the kind of visionary address where the work in progress may last a lifetime, the achievements over the last decade or so have already seen this Saumur Estate rise to become a Loire touchstone. The arrival of offsider Brendan Stater-West in 2011 (now a fine vigneron in his own right) clearly eased the weight off Guiberteau, who had previously managed all aspects of an increasingly respected Domaine tout seul. Now attracting a cult-like following, the partnership has led to a sharp spike in quality, and a winemaking program that is not only precise but also geared towards respecting the nuance of each wine and each terroir (of which there are many).

Domaine Guiberteau is simply one of the Loire Valley’s most sought after artisanal Domaines. The recent progression is vitally apparent in this grower’s reds, which have become more poised and refined with each vintage—pushing the boundaries of the appellation’s potential. A few years back, when we first read Rajat Parr’s thoughts on this producer, we initially raised an eyebrow. No longer. With every passing year, Parr’s words on Guiberteau’s reds take on renewed focus. On the other hand, few will need reminding that the whites are the bomb: layered, articulate Chenin Blancs of stunning tension and chiselled clarity.

The Range

Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Champigny Chacé 2018 (1500ml)
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Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Champigny Chacé 2018 (1500ml)

This lovely surprise was arguably the wine of our tasting last year. The town of Chacé lies five kilometres north of the Brézé hill, in the heart of the Saumur-Champigny appellation. Guiberteau’s other vineyards are classified as Saumur, so this wine marks Romain’s first Saumur-Champigny. Of course, Chacé will be well known to lovers of Clos Rougeard. This town is where Rougeard has its cellars and is home to its most famous vineyard, Le Bourg. In 2016, Guiberteau purchased a quarter of a hectare of old, 1948-planted Cabernet Franc vines rooted in sandy-silt soil over limestone. Bottled only in magnum and limited to less than 1,000 bottles, the idea is to label this wine as Chacé only in exceptional years. In good years, the wine will be labelled Saumur-Champigny and bottled in 750ml. Romain calls this old vineyard un lieu spécial, and judging by his first release, he is really onto something. The full maturation, using one- to two-year-old barrels, takes the best part of three years, and the wine rests for a further 24 months before release. We’re trying not to mention the B-word, yet this is very ‘Pinot’ in its floral-berry scents and silky entry. Framed by powdery, almost invisible tannins, the palate is infused with gorgeous red and blue berries and a trace of classy oak before tapering to a very long, mineral and chalky close. A sommelier’s delight.

Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Champigny Chacé 2018 (1500ml)
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Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Les Arboises Rouge 2020
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Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Les Arboises Rouge 2020

100% Cabernet Franc. Les Arboises is a subsection of the limestone-dominant Brézé hill. This is Guiberteau’s top red from a renowned red terroir. The monopole parcel was planted in 1957 on a rocky, chalky site and produces super-graceful, mineral expressions of Saumur. The fruit is fully destemmed and naturally fermented in concrete before resting for 18 months in new, one-, two- and three-year-old barrels. Guiberteau used about 40% new barrels in 2020. He ages this cuvée for longer than his other reds—both in barrel and bottle—feeling this site’s more angular tannins require extra refinement. In contrast to Les Chapaudaises, it offers not only the density of the vintage but also more barrel spice and chiselled length. It’s complex, assertive, and tightly coiled—a wine that begs for air, a big glass and a hearty, meaty food match. It’s impressive now (especially after a 30-minute decant) but will be brilliant with another five to 10 years in the cellar.

“A delicately dark, somber bouquet prefaces the 2020 Les Arboises, a wine with aromas of spices, licorice, pencil lead and coniferous forest. It’s medium to full-bodied, broad and deep, with a fleshy core of fruit and impeccable balance. A five- to eight-year cellar period is recommended to enhance its qualities.”
94 points, Yohan Costaing, The Wine Advocate
Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Les Arboises Rouge 2020
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Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Les Chapaudaises Rouge 2021
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Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Les Chapaudaises Rouge 2021

100% Cabernet Franc. Les Chapaudaises is in the Bizay terroir, in the small village of Épieds, within half a kilometre of Saumur’s prized hill of Brézé. It’s next to Guiberteau’s monopole Clos de Guichaux, on the same sandy tuffeau limestone. The vines are a mix of Chenin Blanc and old-vine Cabernet Franc. One hectare of the Chenin is leased to Romain’s right-hand man, Brendan Stater-West, with the remaining Chenin finding its way into the Saumur Blanc. But it’s the 1948-planted Cabernet Franc that is Guiberteau’s prize here. The fruit was destemmed and fermented spontaneously in concrete. The wine aged in conical Rousseau vats for one year before resting in a tank for six months. Here, the nose offers a lovely blend of dark cherries, a nip of liquorice and rosemary/roasted herbal notes. The palate is neat and generous, and while tannins are there, they are super-fine and polished. You could call it a Pinot-like vintage for this impressive vineyard.

“In 2021, the Guiberteau family lost 40% of the crop of this cuvée due to frost. Evoking aromas of iris, peony, dark wild berries, spices and licorice, the 2021 Les Chapaudaises is medium-bodied, perfectly balanced, seamless and satiny with a fleshy core of fruit and a gentle austerity in the finish. Matured only in used barrels due to frost, this wine is approachable now but can evolve gracefully.”
92 points, Yohan Costaing, The Wine Advocate
Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Les Chapaudaises Rouge 2021
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Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Clos des Carmes Blanc 2019
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Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Clos des Carmes Blanc 2019

The Brézé hill is home to at least nine historic and clearly delimited clos (or enclosed single climats), most still owned by the Château de Brézé. Three of these were singled out in the last century for their outstanding quality by Maurice Edmond Sailland (author of the Très Grands Vins de Saumur and better known by his pen name, Curnonsky). The Guiberteau clan own one of these three, the monopole of Clos des Carmes, acquired by Romain’s grandfather in 1955. That’s some good buying right there! It’s a south-facing vineyard that sits mid-slope on the belly of the hill and covers some 2.6 hectares. The entire parcel was replanted with mass-selection cuttings by Robert Guiberteau (Romain’s father) in 2004.Only 0.8 hectares of the vineyard (producing 30 hl/ha) are used for the Clos de Carmes bottling, with the remainder declassified (for now) into the Saumur Blanc and Brézé bottlings. The maturation is the same as for the latter cuvée: whole-cluster pressing, indigenous yeast fermentation in barrel (new, one- and two-year-old oak) and 24 months’ aging on fine lees in cask. Despite the similar upbringing, this wine is typically more tightly wound than Guiberteau’s classic Brézé bottling. For this reason, the cuvée rests for a further year in the bottle before release.That extra year means a lot. There is marked strength, yet the significant structure and ample dry extract tightly bind together every molecule of the wine. As Rajat Parr points out, Clos des Carmes is Guiberteau’s “standout white”—yet, veering deep into Burgundian territory, the wine’s saturating intensity and energetic force also make it the domaine’s most brooding. The review below describes the wine well. This is a multifaceted, epicurean white with an almost head-scratching tug of war between fleshy density, puckering phenolics and mouthwatering freshness.

“Matured for 18 months on the fine lees, the 2019 Clos des Carmes, derived from a south-facing plot, reveals aromas of spices, clove, herbs, ripe orchard fruits and ripe citrus. Full-bodied, dense, deep, enveloping and satiny, it has a layered palate and a pure, long and mineral finish. It’s an excellent rendition of Guiberteau’s monopole.”
94 points, Yohan Costaing, The Wine Advocate
Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Clos des Carmes Blanc 2019
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Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Clos de Guichaux Blanc 2021
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Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Clos de Guichaux Blanc 2021

100% Chenin Blanc. Guiberteau’s 1.4-hectare Clos de Guichaux is a historically renowned vineyard in the Bizay terroir in the small village of Épieds, near Brézé. It is a monopole for Guiberteau. The site is the classic clay/limestone of the region but has only 30cm of topsoil before the roots plunge directly into the pure, chalky bedrock. It’s quickly cementing its place as one of Saumur’s finest white vineyards—thanks to wines like this.The 2021 is a perfectly ripe yet strikingly energetic white with all the trademark savoury, mineral drive one expects from this domaine. This wine ferments and matures for 12 months on lees in two- to four-year-old barrels (600-litre, light-toast Atelier Centre France and François Frères that had previously housed the Brézé cuvée), followed by six months in tank. An arresting, high-wire act of citrus, mineral, peppery spice and chalk, Guichaux did not go through malolactic conversion this year, and alongside its lovely transparency, the palate prickles with energy and tension. At this stage, the wine is still settling down from its aging, behaving very much like a young zeitgeist white Burgundy. It’s the kind of wine that sealed this grower’s enduring fame. Time, or air, will only take it to greater heights.

“The 2021 Clos de Guichaux is sourced from vines planted in 2003 on shallow soil over limestone. It's an oaked, nutty, savory style with a real sense of precision and verve. Focused, taut yet with tenderness on the light-bodied mid-palate, finishing with a chalky texture. Smart stuff with energy and tension. It is good now but will be better with more time in bottle.”
93 points, Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous
Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Clos de Guichaux Blanc 2021
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Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Clos de Guichaux Blanc 2020 (1500ml)
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Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Clos de Guichaux Blanc 2020 (1500ml)

Six Magnums only! 100% Chenin Blanc. Guiberteau’s 1.4-hectare Clos de Guichaux is a historically renowned vineyard in the Bizay terroir in the small village of Épieds, near Brézé. It is a monopole for Guiberteau. The site is the classic clay/limestone of the region but has only 30cm of topsoil before the roots plunge directly into the pure, chalky bedrock. It’s quickly cementing its place as one of Saumur’s finest white vineyards—thanks to wines like this.The 2021 is a perfectly ripe yet strikingly energetic white with all the trademark savoury, mineral drive one expects from this domaine. This wine ferments and matures for 12 months on lees in two- to four-year-old barrels (600-litre, light-toast Atelier Centre France and François Frères that had previously housed the Brézé cuvée), followed by six months in tank. An arresting, high-wire act of citrus, mineral, peppery spice and chalk, Guichaux did not go through malolactic conversion this year, and alongside its lovely transparency, the palate prickles with energy and tension. At this stage, the wine is still settling down from its aging, behaving very much like a young zeitgeist white Burgundy. It’s the kind of wine that sealed this grower’s enduring fame. Time, or air, will only take it to greater heights.

“The 2020 Clos des Guichaux, derived from vines planted in 2003 on calcareous soils (called "tuffeau" in Saumur) and matured for one year on lees in used barrels, offers up a smoky, slightly toasty bouquet of citron oil, herbs, ripe orchard fruits and spices. Medium to full-bodied, satiny and elegantly muscular, it’s austere and tense with a gastronomic bitterness on the finish. It will offer a broad drinking window.”
91 points, Yohan Costaing, The Wine Advocate
“Aromatically this feels attractively challenging, with suggestions of crushed rocks and saline minerals. There is a touch of roast to the fruits, led by peach and apricot, spiced up with star anise. The palate shows the same spiced-fruit melange, infused with a little powdered chalk, before a lightly bitter finish. With a good length, this is a promising start.”
92 points, Chris Kissack, The Wine Doctor
Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Clos de Guichaux Blanc 2020 (1500ml)
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“Romain Guiberteau’s white wines made him famous. When they hit the mainstream, they blew everyone’s minds with their power, energy, and sharpness. These wines are so potent and high energy as to require some time in bottle, so don’t open too early. The standout white is les Clos des Carmes. The reds are great, too. Some contend Romain Guiberteau is in fact a better red-wine maker, despite his white-wine fame.” Rajat Parr, The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste

“There is no perfect domaine... but when Romain gets it right he can, in fact, hit the bull's-eye. The white wines are pure, limpid, minerally and bracing, softening with time, but always showing a delicate Chenin ripeness.” Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com

“Amidst a renewed interest in chenin blanc, Guiberteau has become a cult star (complete with hashtag) for concentrated, tightly wound, dry chenins “of punk rock violence,” as his [US] importer describes them.” Meagan Krigbaum, PunchDrink.com

Country

France

Primary Region

Anjou Saumur, Loire Valley

People

Winemakers: Romain Guiberteau & Brendan Stater-West

Availability

National

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