- Wines in Portfolio -
LA PORTE SAINT JEAN, SIX ROSES
Type: Dry sparkling rose
Appellation: Vin de France (Saumur)
Site & Vines: Predominately Chenin Blanc with Sauvignon Blanc & just enough Cab Franc for color
Vinification & Elevage: Prior to fermentation, the juice is macerated with rose petals from Sylvain's family's rose farm (organic, of course). Fermentation takes place with native yeast in fiberglass tanks. Secondary fermentation takes place in bottle and the wine spends 6 months minimum sur lattes (aged in the bottle) before disgorgement.
Notes: Sylvain uses 6 different varieties of roses for the maceration, giving a subtly sweet & spicy musk to the aromatics, and also the name of this cuvée. The florals of the nose suggest the wine would be off-dry but it's in fact bone dry coupling Chenin's searing acidity with Cab Franc's intense fruit character. The main attribute Sylvain hopes the rose petal maceration will bring is tannin and therefore texture, length, and finesse. But of course when young, the wine is also imbued with heady aromatics full of tell tale spicy, musk, and floral notes that transport one to a rose garden in full bloom.
LA PORTE SAINT JEAN, SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY
Type: Dry red
Site & Vines: Cabernet Franc from two different sites on a single slope - younger vines mid-slope on clay and 40 year old vines on sandy, silty clay over limestone from the the top of the slope. Up until 2012 Sylvain used to bottle the 3 ha. older vine parcel "Les Beaugrands" on its own. He now blends it into La Porte Saint Jean to give more depth and robustness to the wine.
Vinification & Elevage: The two parcels are fermented and aged separately. Fermentations takes place in concrete tank with native yeast. The juice is transfrerred by gravity into barrel in Sylvain's cellar and left to age undisturbed for 12-18 months in a mixture of new and old oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Notes: An intense and robust wine while maintaining textural elegance and definition.
LA PORTE SAINT JEAN, SAUMUR "LES CORMIERES"
Type: Dry red
Site & Vines: Single parcel of Cab Franc
Vinification & Elevage: Fermentation takes place in concrete tank with native yeast. Juice is transferred by gravity into a combination of used and new barrels in the cave. Aged undisturbed for 18-24 months. Bottles unfined and unfiltered.
Notes: This is the single parcel bottling that has replaced Les Beaugrands. Incredible depth of character and complexity.
Armed with formal schooling and a remarkable “un-training” from some of the best natural winemakers in France, such as Marc Tempé in Alsace, Gérard Gauby in the Roussillon, Thierry Germain and Antoine Foucault in Saumur, Sylvain Dittière struck out on his own in 2010, at the ripe age of 25. He acquired a 2.5 ha parcel of Cab Franc in Saumur-Champigny that had already been farmed organically and a gem of a jurassic cellar that enables him to work without temperature regulation and by gravity. Little by little he has grown the domaine to about 6 hectares and has added a couple single parcels, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, and experiments with sparkling and oxidative wines as well. He works with minimal yields, native yeast fermentations, ages in barrel, and doesn't sulfur until bottling
Sylvain 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 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. 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. Over the years Sylvain has gradually extended the ageing of his wines, which is always in barrel for the reds, and has begun incorporating more new wood in order to coax out subtlety and nuance in his wines. Apart from a minimal amount of sulfur at bottling, nothing is added.