More than a few years ago I was sauntering from table to table at Nicolas Joly’s annual ‘natural’ wine-fest in Angers, a tasting of wines produced by a loose-knit group of vignerons once referred to as Renaissance des Appellations but – as so many ‘natural’ winemakers also tend to eschew anything that might give validity to the appellation system – it has more recently been christened as a simple Dégustation des Vins. I was on the lookout for a few new wines to try, from vignerons less familiar than older friends such as Pithon-Paillé, François Chidaine or Domaine de Bellivière, all of whom also show their wines at Joly’s tasting.
It was at this moment that I happened across the wines of Frantz Saumon, and I was particularly intrigued by one of the wines, named Minérale+. Being a natural cynic I am afraid I approached the wine with a sceptical bent; after all, if your wine is really that minerally, then you don’t need to shout it out from the label, do you? Once I had lifted the wine to my lips, however, and taken my first taste, all sense of doubt and cynicism soon faded away. This was minerally, and balanced too, and very bright and attractive with it. Tasting through the other wines on the table, I soon realised that they were, across the range, very good.
Chatting with the young bearded man pouring the wines I soon realised that he wasn’t Frantz Saumon; this was merely a friend of his, helping out while Frantz was busy elsewhere. As a result, it was another year before I met Frantz himself, and also another year before I had the opportunity to taste through some more of his wines. They were just as convincing as the year before. And now, with Frantz pouring the wines, I at last had a chance to find out a little more about him and his domaine.