Cave de Saumur

The Cave de Saumur, founded in 1956 by 40 growers, is a co-operative operating under the umbrella of the Alliance Loire organisation, a conglomeration of co-ops vinifying grapes from more than 850 growers covering 4,500 hectares across the entire Loire region. 160 growers now form the Cave de Saumur around the town of the same name and even after nearly 60 years they are under the leadership of only their third President, Jean-Louis Bazille .

The Cave has put an emphasis on sustainable viticulture and all its members have signed up to a plan of action aimed at the conservation of water resources, air quality and biodiversity. They also own a labyrinth of subterranean cellars, some 10 km of them, cut into the soft, pale tufa rock so typical of the Loire, that complements their modern winery built in 2000. Red and rosé wines are made from cabernet franc grapes and whites from chenin blanc.

The quality of Loire cabernet franc has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. This far north it is not easy to ripen red grapes, so more work is now done in the vineyards to encourage early ripening, and in the cellar to bring out fruit and freshness without extracting harsh or green tannins. Master of Wine Sam Harrop has consulted at the Cave de Saumur on the 'cabernet franc project' over many years and this has been the catalyst for the dramatic rise in quality.