2021 Sylvain Dittiere, Saumur-Champigny Rouge, La Porte Saint Jean, Loire Valley, France.
The 2021 La Porte Saint Jean, 100% Cabernet Franc, Saumur-Champigny Rouge shows pretty aromatics and dark fruit layers of currant, black cherry, plum and earthy blackberry fruits, on a lovely ripe, but fresh, medium/full palate that seduces the senses with spicy herbs, loam, violets, chalky elements, sandalwood and mineral notes. I last tried the 2016, which was earthier and dusty with raw tannin, while this one shows a graceful supple texture and crisper/cleaner detailing, all of which is very desirable in a more natural styled and transparent wine. This vintage has a charming pleasure with depth of fruit, but doesn’t feel as ripe as some, in fact it has plenty of life and lift, it is fabulous with food too, it went brilliantly with savory pork chops and even flash grilled Ahi tuna. As mentioned before, I have been a fan and follower of Sylvain Dittiere’s wines, a real established star now, for close to a decade now, especially this bottling, since his 2013 vintage, this 100% de-stemmed La Porte Saint Jean Saumur-Champigny (Cabernet Franc) comes from two different sites on a single slope, with the younger vines on a mid-slope, set on clay, and the more mature 40+ year old vines on sandy, silty clay over limestone closer to the the top of the hillside, providing excellent complexity and intensity of flavors.

One of the Loire’s rising natural stars, Sylvain Dittiere, works his 4 hectares all organic, and as his importer notes, comes armed with formal schooling and a remarkable “un-training” from some of the best natural winemakers in France, such as Marc Tempé in Alsace, Gérard Gauby in the Roussillon, Thierry Germain and Antoine Foucault in Saumur, of Clos Rougeard fame. Sylvain Dittière struck out on his own in 2010, at the youthful age of 25, when he acquired a 2.5 ha parcel of Cabernet Franc in Saumur-Champigny that had already been farmed organically and a gem of “Jurassic” cellar that was carved out of the rock. This environment enables him to work without temperature controlled tanks or or vats and it is all fed by gravity flow for ultra gentile handing of the grapes and wine. For his La Porte Saint Jean, Dittiere, the two parcels are fermented and aged separately and blended closer to bottling, with fermentation(s) done in concrete tank with indigenous yeasts. The juice is post primary is then racked by gravity into barrels where it is matured undisturbed for close to 18 months with a combination of new and old oak barrels, and then bottled unfined and unfiltered with low sulfur. The use of new oak in the mix is a newer choice, and one that adds to the overall refinement here, without taking away the nuance and terroir nature found in this exceptional Loire Valley Cab Franc, it is a wine that should really gain with age too, I see another decade of rewarding drinking easy!
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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