Joli Vin imports
Sylvain Dittière - Loire / Saumur-Champigny
Sylvain Dittière learned early enough to cultivate a plant, his parents were rose growers. Lovely as roses may be, they left Sylvain uninspired and so he decidedly turned to the vine and began an apprenticeship at Domaine du Collier, Antoine Foucault's iconic organic domaine in Saumur. It was here that that Sylvain's passion for making wines without chemical interventions took root. He went on to complete his studies in oenology while simultaneously challenging much of what he learned in school interning at yet another benchmark organic domaine in Saumur, Thierry Germain's Domaine des Roches Neuves. To round out his education, or "un-education" as Sylvain puts it, he followed up with stints at two more well regarded organic domaines in opposite corners of France, two years alongside Marc Tempé in Alsace and then another year with Gerard Gauby in the Roussillon, principally in the cellar. All in all, an impressive (un)education!
Armed with this solid experience, Sylvain returned to his native Loire Valley in 2010 to start his own domaine. Even though he didn't have a family estate to take over and little cash, he had no intention of comprising on the quality of the fruit. The vineyards had to already be organic and pruned for a maximum production of 40hl/ha; Les Beaugrands, a 3 hectare parcel in Saumur-Champigny was just the ticket. The soil is typical for the appellation: sandy, silty, clay over limestone, an excellent combination for retaining heat and ensuring ripeness in an otherwise cool climate, something that distinguishes Saumur-Champigny from the surrounding appellation of Saumur. Yields are no more than 35hl/ ha. He vinifies, ages and bottles at his domaine. Maceration and native yeast fermentaiton take place naturally in concrete tanks with just 2 remontages. The wine is aged for 8 months in 2 year old Bordeaux barrels and apart from a minimal amount of sulfur at bottling, nothing is added.
Sylvain makes two cuvees from the single parcel: Les Beaugrands, which comes from 40 year old vines at the top of the hill and La Porte Saint Jean. 2011 La Porte Saint Jean has is a head turner. Cabernet Franc from the Loire one could easily mistake for 1er Cru Burgundy. It possesses an elegance, finesse and delicate silkiness that one rarely finds outside of Pinot Noir. This is a wine that shatters all of the less appreciated qualities that contributes to the oft-times maligned reputation of Cabernet Franc.
In 2012, an extremely low production year for many appellations in the central Loire, Sylvain continued to grow his domaine and took ownership of two new parcels, adding a third cuvée of Cabernet Franc and also Chenin from Saumur. Clearly, this is a man on the move and we are delighted to expand our portfolio deeper into the Loire with Sylvain and look forward to what the future has in store for this young talent who still in his twenties, is at the very beginning of what should be a long and fruitful career.
La Porte Saint JeanThis is a complex and elegant Saumur-Champigny which invites comparisons with a polished Burgundian Pinot Noir.