Domaine de Rocheville
The concept of the première côte is one I suspect most readers are familiar with, although Saumur-Champigny is perhaps not the first appellation that pops into my mind in association with this phrase. The term is used most commonly with reference to Vouvray, where it has long been recognised that it is the vineyards that look directly out across the waters of the Loire that give us the appellation’s best wines. There is not a monopoly on the term though, and it is one that many vignerons in Saumur-Champigny also use to describe the great wall of vines that teeter atop the limestone cliff edge here, this time on the left bank of the Loire.
The potential of the première côte vineyards of Saumur-Champigny should not, I feel, be underestimated; the concept may seem novel, but many of the names dotted along the cliff top will be more familiar. Not far out of Saumur, in Dampierre-sur-Loire, there sits Château du Hureau, and a little further along there is Château de Villeneuve in Souzay-Champigny and Château de Targé in Parnay. Indeed, most of the vines after the church in Parnay belong to Château de Targé except for one small parcel, Clos Romans, which is of course in the possession of Thierry Germain of Domaine des Roches Neuves. Finally, bringing up the rear are the vines of La Grand Vignolle, which are part of the Filliatreau empire, in Turquant. This is quite a run of names to take in.
Now it is time to add one more domaine of note to this list. Situated directly behind Château de Targé, just one hundred metres or so further up the plateau, is the new winery of Domaine de Rocheville.