France - Loire - Saumur
When one has been at something for a long time, there is no greater gift than to find oneself as dumbstruck as a novice, deeply moved by the discovery of something truly profound. The hill of Brézé in Saumur has been such a discovery for us. On this hill, chenins taste like none other in the Loire. They are so uncompromising, so violently assertive, so brilliantly mineral, it reminds us of the first time we were confronted by the Mosel. The great Curnonsky, a Loire native, considered Brézé to be one of the most important terroirs in the Loire valley. No [expletive] kidding. Romain Guiberteau owns some of the best land in Brézé, and makes dry chenins of punk rock violence, yet of Bach-like logic and profoundness. He is creating quite a stir.
Founded at the beginning of the XXth century by Clément Manguin, Romain’s great grandfather, the domaine was then passed on to Clément’s son in law, Robert Guiberteau, a talented winemaker and one of the founding members of the cave cooperative of Saumur. In 1954, recognizing the great potential of this terroir, Robert purchased several hectares on the hill of Brézé, in particular the Clos des Carmes, considered by legendary gourmet Curnonsky as one of the grand crus of the Loire Valley. When Robert retired in 1976 none of his children wanted to take over and the domaine was farmed out.
In 1996, at the end of a lease cycle, Romain Guiberteau, who was flailing as a law student, decided to take over the management of his family’s vineyards rather than see the leases renewed. The following year, under the mentoring of Clos Rougeard’s Dani Foucault, Romain made 5000 bottles of red wine that he managed to sell easily. The success convinced him to pursue a qualitative approach to winemaking and to gradually take back his grapes from the cooperative.
The domaine is 9.4 hectares (under plantation, there is 12 hectares total), 7 of which are located in the great terroir of Brézé. A little more than half of the surface is planted to Chenin with the remainder planted to Cabernet Franc. Age of vines varies between 4 and 80 years old, with a hefty proportion of old vines. In 2000, Romain converted the vineyards to organic management and in 2003 he began the process towards the AB organic certification, obtaining it in 2007.
In only a few years, Domaine Guiberteau has become one of the most sought after domaines in Saumur, their wines already stringently allocated and found in the best restaurants in France.