This estate has been in the family for several generations. Basically, the Foucault brothers (Nadi and Charlie) took control in 1969 and tend exceptional vineyards, harvest at small yields, vinify in barrel, let the wines bubble for a couple of years in a glacially cold cellar and bottle without filtration.
One of the US importers has a quote regarding Clos Rougeard. It goes something like this, “Just our luck. We have a cult estate. Every three-star restaurant in France hustles to get a small allocation. No one in America, outside of the lucky few, has heard of it.” Another quote by Chinon winemaker Charles Joguet, “There are two suns. One shines outside for everybody. The second shines in the Foucault’s cellar.”
The leading cuvée of Saumur Champigny is Le Bourg, which comes from a one hectare plot of 70-year old Cabernet Franc vines planted on soils comprised of a thin layer of clay. There is also Les Poyeux, from another plot of 45-year old vines on more sandy soils. Alongside those brilliant reds there is also a white Saumur named Brézé, made from 100% Chenin Blanc, in miniscule quantities from one hectare of 40-50 year old vines.
The vineyards are tended without herbicides or fertilizers and using a plough as the main method of weed control. After harvesting by hand the fruit is destemmed and fermented in barrel. The reds undergo malolactic fermentation in barrel, with Le Bourg going into new oak, Les Poyeux into used one-year-old barrels and the domaine wine in older wood again, often acquired from notable Bordeaux estates.There is no fining and no filtration, minimal use of sulfur, and the wine is bottled after 18-24 months in oak. The end result is, particularly in Les Poyeux and Le Bourg, a wine that stands apart from the traditional view of Saumur Champigny as a light red for quaffing in Parisian bistros. There is a substance to the Rougeard wines, but more importantly there is a textural quality to them, a silkiness to the tannins, that demands attention.