2018 Chateau du Hureau, Saumur-Champigny Rouge “Tuffe” Loire Valley, France.
The Chateau du Hureau Saumur-Champigny is a beautiful terroir inspired dark hued Cabernet Franc with layers of perfumed floral tones and soft spicy notes to go along with classic black raspberry, cherry, plum and red currants fruits. Hints of cinnamon, crushed violets, mineral, leather, bay leaf and very faint bell pepper complete the picture here of this Chateau du Hureau “Tuffe” cuvee. As noted in my last review of this wine, it comes from many small plots both with young and old vines grown on the local ancient limestone, a white chalky soil, that gives the wine it’s name and character. Chateau du Hureau is located in the small town of Dampierre-sur-Loire, about four miles east of Saumur and 15 miles west of Chinon. The Chateau, which is note worthy for its classic architecture, has its cellars carved into the limestone cliffs, it was built during the 13th century and overlooks the Loire River. For wine lovers, Charles Neal, their importer, says that the cave is even more impressive than the Chateau, with numerous paths leading to carved out caverns housing stainless steel vinification equipment and lines of barrels, which are used to good effect to produce lovely and elegant wines such as this one. I really started to take notice of Chateau du Hureau with their 2012 vintage releases, which I couldn’t get enough of and I loved the aromatics, the purity, sultry earthiness and the absolute quality on display, and this 2018 Tuffe is just as good and may even be a better wine with a shade more depth and complexity. In the cellar, the wines see a lengthy maceration and elevage, with the top bottlings being matured for close to 20 months, while this one sees a minimum of 10 months.

Imported on the west coast by Charles Neal, this historic Chateau, run by Philippe and Agathe Valan, located in Saumur-Champigny region on the Loire River is showing impressive form again, and this bottling in particular way over delivers for the price. Philippe Vatan, who has become one the most celebrated vignerons in Saumur-Champigny, was thrust into being the sole figurehead at Chateau du Hureau, as Neal notes, after the tragic and untimely death of his brother in 1987 and has turned this property into one the most desirable estates in the Loire, crafting a tidy collection of mainly Cab Franc wines, along with a special cuvée of pure Chenin Blanc. The Chateau du Hureau Saumur-Champigny Rouge “Tuffe” is Philippe Vatan’s most pure example of Cabernet Franc made from a wide variety of parcels, as mentioned above, spread across his limestone-rich vineyards. The Tuffe is exclusively fermented and aged in stainless-steel in his immaculate and cavernous cellar, this bottling always has classic Cabernet Franc varietal character and raw stony details, it impeccably shows of the grape in its most naked form, with this 2018 again being a very compelling wine to drink young and fresh. Hureau now has 17 hectares of vines with a wide range of age, including 21 separate vineyard plots that are spread around the towns of Dampierre-sur-Loire, Souzay, Champigny, and Saumur. The estate vineyards are planted almost entirely to Cabernet Franc and they are holistically cared for and farmed all organically, and though label makes no reference to it, they are all certified organic. I’m glad I grabbed this 2018, it reminded of just how good this wine and producer is, I highly recommend searching out these Chateau du Hureau offerings, especially this one that is an excellent and flexible food wine.
($20 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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