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Pierre and Brigitte Van Den Boom

While perusing the French trade magazine Rouge et Blanc, Daniel was intrigued by an article on the new Loire appellation Saumur Puy Notre Dame and one of the properties mentioned was Domaine de l’Enchantoir. Tasting the samples that winemakers Pierre and Brigitte Van Den Boom kindly sent a few months later, we knew that this small domaine’s wines are the real deal — fresh and vibrant Chenin and Cabernet Franc that speak to the region’s terroir.

Pascaline Lepeltier, the Wine Director at New York restaurant Rouge Tomate who is well-known for her passion for Loire wines, explained her take on the difference between Saumur-Champigny and Saumur Puy Notre Dame:

I would say that Saumur Puy Notre Dame is more structured and tannic than Champigny — Champigny’s soil lies almost entirely on Turonian Tuffeau stone [a marine sedimentary rock dating from the late Cretaceous epoch] with Eolian sands, whereas Saumur Puy Notre Dame has more clay and limestone. Also, the winegrowers association in Saumur Puy Notre Dame wants to make denser wines with higher minimum alcohol, more vineyard density, requiring élévage of the wines, etc…

ImageUntil the 1960s, this region was planted in Chenin Blanc for sparkling white wine and in Cabernet d’Anjou, destined to be made into the sweet sparkling rosé that was in fashion at the time. It wasn’t until 1962 (at the end of the Algerian War) when the charismatic winemaker Henri Aupy moved from Algeria to Saumur and saw the potential for profound reds that the production of still red wine in the area saw a renaissance. He began petitioning the INAO to make Saumur Puy-Notre Dame its own appellation in the late sixties.

Recognized as an official French red wine AOC on October 12, 2009, Saumur Puy-Notre Dame is 20 km south of Saumur and can be produced in 17 communes. The vineyards within the new appellation are at an elevation of between 50-150m and the soil is largely ancient limestone. AOC laws stipulate that to qualify as Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame, a minimum of 85% Cabernet Franc must be used; the rest can be Cabernet Sauvignon. At harvest, the grapes must exhibit a potential for a minimum of 12% alcohol. Chaptalisation is not allowed.

ImageDomaine de l’Enchantoir’s Saumur Puy Notre Dame “Le Pied à l’Etrier” is a delicious example of this new appellation with bright, fresh red fruit and a savory twist that is unmistakable old-world Cabernet Franc. (While the appellation allows the blending of up to 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, the Van Den Booms’ Saumur PND is 100% Cab Franc because they own no Sauvignon vines.)

I could drink this wine by the bucketful!

The cuvée name translates to “foot in the stirrup” and both celebrates the Van Den Booms’ excitement with their new lives as winemakers and honors their past as horse breeders.

The Van Den Booms also make a Saumur Blanc that is equally delicious — textbook juicy, exuberant Chenin.

Read on after the break for a short interview with the Van Den Booms —

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