Domaine de Nerleux
The eight communes of the Saumur-Champigny appellation run along the south bank of the Loire, starting with Montsoreau, the furthest upstream, followed by Turquant, Parnay and Souzay-Champigny before ending with Saumur, more specifically the old communes of Saumur and Dampierre. To continue to map out the appellation we must then turn south, and move inland, along the east bank of the Thouet, a tributary of the Loire which flows into the southern part of the town of Saumur before turning and, as is the case with many rivers that feed into the Loire, the two run parallel for a few kilometres before they eventually meet.
The communes that run alongside the Thouet are perhaps the most famous in the Saumur-Champigny appellation, and it is here that all the top-performing domaines are to be found. Directly south of Saumur is Varrains, and then there is Chacé. The southernmost of all, however, is Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg. The town of Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg sits just east of the Thouet atop a crest of limestone from the Upper Turonian, which is surrounded on all sides by older limestone from the Middle and Turonian stages. This commune therefore has classic Saumur-Champigny terroir and it is where, on the main road through the village of Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg, Domaine de Nerleux is to be found.
Domaine de Nerleux dates back to at least 1870, when it was acquired by a local vigneron named Eugène Neau. Eugène already owned a few vines, and these new vineyards were purchased in order to expand his estate. The vineyards that he brought together were to be the nidus around which Domaine de Nerleux grew, as it was handed down through nine generations of the Neau family. It was first passed to Eugène’s son, also named Eugène, and then to the next generation, Robert.