Andrew Guard


Within a short period of time Antoine Foucault is already making some of the most exciting wines in the Loire Valley. The Domaine du Collier was created in 1999 by Antoine (son of Charly Foucault from the famed Clos Rougeard) and his wife Caroline. Having worked at Clos Rougeard for four years and still at the young age of 26 he took the opportunity to buy four-hectares of vines (through his family) in the commune of Brézé in the best lieu-dit of ‘La Ripaille’. The estate comprises 6 hectares with the vast majority of the estate planted to Chenin Blanc (including some 100 year old vines) and just under a hectare of Cabernet Franc.

Antoine is dedicated to natural viticulture, without the use of chemical treatments, fertilizers, or weed killers. The harvest is manual with strict sorting carried out in the vineyards. In his deep cellar, Antoine does not use commercial yeast, and doesn’t treat the wine with sulphur until bottling. His cellar is underground and actually part of Clos Rougeard. It is renowned for being very cold and this protects the wines in élevage and I think goes some way to explaining the glacial development of the wines in bottle. The end results are brilliant and it is probably no surprise that demand for them is very high and as a result they can be very hard to find.

There is a substance to these wines that is impressive, but more importantly there is a clarity to them, a precision that demands attention. These are powerful, mineral wines, wines that do not assault the palate, but seek to impress on grounds of their brilliant composition rather than forceful flavour or aroma. They are, in my experience, truly stunning wines.

Three wines are produced at Domaine du Collier: Saumur Blanc is from low yielding (30hl/ha) mature (20-75 years) vines grown on predominantly clay limestone soils and is a very powerful and complex wine even when young. As with all great Chenin (as this is) though the magic happens as the wines age and evolve and this will do so magnificently.

The Saumur Blanc "La Charpenterie", from the oldest (100+ yr) vines, which delivers more concentration and the extra dimesion that old vines deliver. It is a fabulous, fabulous wine.

Saumur Rouge "La Ripaille" is a masterful take on Cabernet France, a very diffcult grape to master. It has a booming resonance yet remains incredibly precise and finely detailed and needless to say that fans of the wines of the Clos Rougeard will find lots to like - and with the wines above too; these are special wines.


Written by Andrew Guard — June 23, 2012