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You can’t overstate the rapturous reception in France for Domaine des Closiers’ 2019s. Michel Bettane and his partner Thierry Desseauve led the chorus, calling them, essentially, the second coming of Clos Rougeard. But once you taste the wines, and learn more about the terroirs that produce them, you realize that is in fact one of the most important new domaines to emerge in the Loire in decades.
Domaine de Closiers is the vision of Anatole de la Brosse, who, prior to heading one of the world’s largest management consulting firms, had trained as an enologist. Eventually, Anatole decided to leave consulting and return to his first passion. He was able to acquire Domaine des Closiers, an historic property in Parnay, in the heart of Saumur-Champigny, in 2018. The estate’s name derives from the vineyard workers who once inhabited the ancient caves carved into its hillsides.
Because much of Saumur-Champigny is relatively flat, the wealth of slopes in Parnay, and Closiers in particular, sets it apart. This is especially true of the Les Coudraies climat, but extends to many of the estate’s holdings. The estate’s vines also average over 35 years of age, giving further credence to Anatole’s belief in Closiers’ potential.
To fully realize this potential, he enlisted two of the Loire Valley’s most celebrated names. The first, Michel Chevré, of Clos de l’Ecotard, earlier worked side-by-side with Thierry Germain as they developed a pioneering biodynamic regime. Michel has helped develop a similar program tailored to Closiers’ diverse terroirs.
“This kind of winemaking isn’t taught in school … Cabernet Franc with this expression - so dynamic, bursting with aromatics, and in the mouth, it’s explosive … I haven’t had a Saumur-Champigny like this in 10 years.”
- Michel Bettane & Thierry Desseauve
The second name is even better known: Nady Foucault, who, with his late brother Charly, made Clos Rougeard one of the towering icons of French wine. Nady’s wealth of experience helped guide Closiers’ winemaking team from the beginning, and the wisdom of that decision became readily apparent with the inaugural 2019 vintage.
For each of its wines, the estate aims to preserve the freshness and purity of their fruit. The reds start with a pre-fermentation maceration that can last for days before fermentation commences spontaneously. Total maceration can last up to a month before pressing and transfer to casks for aging and settling.
The basic red cuvée, Closiers, is aged for 6 to 8 months in tank before bottling. A second cuvée is selected from the Les Coudraies hillsides. With its more structured fruit, this bottling is aged approximately 12 months in mostly used barrels. Powerful and restrained, it is an exemplar of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc.
A third red is produced from an old-vine parcel called Les Trezelliêres. Aged for an additional year in barrels (only 10-20% new), it rivals any red produced in the Loire Valley today. All three reds, including even the entry-level Closiers, share the velvety textural character that Nady achieved at Clos Rougeard.
Less than 5% of the estate’s hectares are planted to white varieties, but they also yield extraordinary wines. Some rare Chardonnay is fashioned into the IGP “Cuvée Libere.” And the Saumur blanc “Allegory,” comes from a few rows of Chenin Blanc. Each wine is a striking example of its varietal and terroir, and each shares the hallmark textural depth demonstrated in the region’s finest whites.
This is the birth of a truly extraordinary Loire Valley estate, with wines that demand to be experienced and understood.
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