Thierry Germain’s introduction to the wine world
Born into a family of Bordeaux wine growers, Thierry Germain realized his wine-making dream early on in life: to be the owner of his own domain. After searching for plots of land from Bordeaux to Hungary, he set his heart on Anjou (in the Loire Valley) and the Domain des Roches Neuves, a property that produced 26 hectares of wine under the Saumur and Saumur-Champigny appellation. When he acquired the domain in 1993, the property was already well-respected thanks to quality of its wines.
Horses and organic wine growing
During the first few years, Thierry Germain applied a classic and traditional producing approach. The wines he produced were not satisfying over time. Led by his rigor, his passion for horse-riding (lucky for Thierry, the famous Cadre Noir de Saumur – national horse-riding school- is not very far) and above all his love for nature, he decided to diametrically change his way of wine-growing to be more consistent with his own convictions and beliefs. It was difficult to think of anything other than the rules of the Austrian Rudolph Steiner: agronomist, engineer, and plant philosopher. Dedicating himself to organic wine growing practices seemed necessary to wake up the living. Conventional methods fight against any type of grass or weeds that could compromise a harvest, and consequently mute the expression of the land. For Thierry, “the earth absorbs too many dangerous substances. Our thousand year old terroir, is losing life.”
Having understood the potential of the Saumur appellation – a vineyard which produces great Cabernet Franc – he decided to separate his methods of traditional production, so that he could produce wines that express the diversity of their terroir. The way he tells it, “I learned that only bad weeds existed. On the contrary, everything that grows contributes to diversity.” Thierry believes it’s the richness of the soil that is the key element to the finesse of Saumur wines. In 2002, he converted his entire vineyard into an organic vineyard. Keeping in mind, that in a region subject to humidity (due to the continental, and oceanic climate zones), there is an enormous risk for the grape production: and consequently, the grape yield. But Thierry Germain was convinced, this will work. The vine knows how to defend itself. Similar to human beings, useless antibiotics diminish plants’ ability to fend of infections. Like humans, the vines contain their own auto-defence system.
The organic approach is inevitable to return life back to the soil, and to offer consumers great wines rich with the subtleties of terroir. Wines that get people excited! Our plant expert specifies: “We must transcend ourselves, react with passion so that our wines can breathe and excite the people that taste them.”
Philosopher and inter-generational messenger: Thierry Germain
Thierry Germain insists: organic wine growing isn’t only a way of work, it’s more of a way of life. To battle against standardisation, he aims for durability so that future generations can still profit from the rich diverse tastes of terroir.
To learn more about the expression of terroir and the sincerity of the fruit (it’s taste), as well as the finesse and freshness, he stopped trimming the vines and started to activate the life of the soil. In the end, he was rewarded with a harvest of rich grapes that were not over-loaded with sugar.
In wine cellars that are over 300 years old, he uses modern technology to highlight the sincere characteristics of each plot of land. Cultivating wine plot-by-plot allows Thierry to cultivate a wine that is custom made and isolates the subtlety, complexity, and authenticity of each terroir. Each vintage strives to be unique, and not have any resemblance to other vintages. Thierry Germain avoids normalcy at all costs.
For Thierry, the secret to a successful organic vintage (even though the task is hard) is linked to the reactivity of man “The big secret of organic growing, is to be hyper reactive, to understand the plants and have the correct materials to tend to 26 hectares during the day. It demands a lot of work and time, and a lot of investment; but in the end, we are rewarded.”
Tasting Saumur’s potential
The 26 hectares of Domaine des Roches Neuves are situated in the Saumur Blanc and Saumur-Champigny appellations. It is located on a chalky sub-soil, locally called “Tuffeau”, clay, and a sediment mixed with sandy limestone. The grape varieties include Cabernet Franc (for the reds) and Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc is a grape variety that is famous in the Anjou region for its dry whites or sweet whites. These wines are delicate, with strong mineral influences, and absolutely breath-taking.
“L’Insolite” : Loire’s perfection
The cuvée “Insolite” is one of the biggest white wines of the Loire Valley. It is 100% Chenin Blanc, planted on clay-limestone, mud, and flint. After a meticulous sorting the grapes are vinified and stored (for 12 months on fine lees) with the objective of preserving all of the minerality of the soil and to transpose the expression of the unique “Tuffeau”.
With an almost crystal clear yellow, and light green tears, L’Insolite displays a well-balanced nose that is both fresh and powerful. The aroma reveals strong fruit aromas, more specifically, ripe and candied citrus fruits. Delicate flower and spice aromas are also present: verbena, bergamot, and fresh gingerbread. In the mouth, the attack is strong and sensual. The intensity of the fruit is highlighted by the vibrant freshness and complexity of the spice aromas. The finish is persistent and transcends the intrinsic richness of the terroir. A White Saumur with a serious and strong character. A true success.