Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Blanc Clos des Carmes 2015
The Brézé hill is home to at least nine historic and clearly delimited Clos (or enclosed single climats), most still owned by the Château de Brézé. Of these nine Clos, three were singled out in the last century for their outstanding quality by Maurice Edmond Sailland (author of the “Très Grands Vins de Saumur”, and better known by his pen name Curnonsky). The Guiberteau clan own one of these, the monopole of Clos des Carmes, acquired by Romain’s grandfather in 1955. That’s some good buying right there! It’s a south-facing vineyard that sits mid-slope on the belly of the hill, and covers some 2.6 hectares. The entire parcel was replanted with massale cuttings by Robert Guiberteau (Romain’s father) in 2004.
Only 0.8 hectares of the vineyard (producing 30 hl/ha) are used for the Clos de Carmes bottling, with the remainder declassified (for now) into the Saumur Blanc. The élevage is the same as for the Brézé cuvée—whole-cluster pressing, indigenous yeast fermentation in barrel (both new and one- and two-year-old oak) and 18 months aging on fine lees in cask. Despite the similar upbringing, this wine is typically more tightly wound than Guiberteau’s classic Brézé bottling, and for this reason, the cuvée is rested for a further year in bottle before release.
That extra year means a lot. What we have here is something unbelievably intense yet linear. ‘Powerful’ is not the word as that could suggest fat, and there is only muscle here. Yes, there is marked strength, yet every molecule of the wine is tightly bound together by the significant structure and ample dry extract. The aromatics are both smoky and spicy, with floral and nettle notes leading to a tightly wound, yet deep palate, with a core of white peach infused with incredible salinity, hints of chalk dust, and again, that super-savoury, nettle-like, smoky character. Long and powerful on the finish, this is a wine that will live and develop (and give enormous pleasure) for decades.