Antoine Sanzay isn’t exactly a newcomer to viticulture, he is in fact the 6th generation of the Sanzay family to tend their vines. Having studied at the lycée viticole at Montreuil-Bellay he took over the running of the family domaine in 1999. Antoine’s journey into wine was not a typical smooth succession. He had just turned 10 when, just as his grandfather was verging on retirement, his father tragically passed away. While Antoine’s father was a wine lover, his grandfather was the opposite. Growing grapes was just one element of a polyculture, and by no means the most important to him. What mattered was to work the land for a living, with all the grapes sold to the local co-operative.
With no solid guidance, no mentor, Antoine had to start from scratch. “I didn’t have any inherited legacy or familial pressure.” While having to rely on his wits, this provided Antoine with freedom to experiment. “I think it can be easier for the children to start with a new name than following their father’s legacy with all the baggage that can come with it” admitted Antoine. While he may have learned on his own, he grew his inspiration with support from many great Loire personalities, including Guy Bossard, Jo Pithon, Thierry Germain, Jo Landron, Les Freres Foucault and Bernard Baudry.
It was not until 2002 Antoine made his first vintage. With slowly having made the switch to organic practices, in 2007 Antoine started experimenting deeper in to organic viticulture and converted his vineyards by 2011, becoming fully certified bio and Ecocert in 2014. 2014 was also his first vintage where he bottled his entire production and stopped selling to the local cooperative, Antoine admitted “I started with almost nothing and I needed the local cooperative to help me financially”.
Located in Varrains, the domaine sits right along the main road running south from Saumur directly through the commune before continuing on past Chacé and Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg to Brézé. Here is where you will find the Sanzay residence, cuverie and cave, while the vineyards are scattered around in the communes of Dampierre, St-Cyr-en-Bourg , Varrains and Souzay-Champigny.
Altogether Antoine has 11.4 hectares of vineyards at his disposal; with approx. 10.3 hectares planted to Cabernet Franc, the wines are eligible for the Saumur-Champigny appellation. Alongside his plantings is 1.1 hectares of Chenin Blanc, for which the wines are produced under the Saumur appellation.
His most prized parcels are two 2-hectare plots in the lieu-dit ‘Les Poyeux’, the vineyard best associated with Clos Rougaerd, who also bottle a majestic ‘Les Poyeux’ cuvée. The soils here are very thin, the vine roots digging deep into the limestone rock beneath, with the resulting wine being the most structured in the Sanzay portfolio.
The vineyards are cultivated to organic practices, avoiding chemical treatments. The harvest is always carried out entirely by hand with bunches being transported in 25kg tubs to the Sanzay facilities. Here the bunches are carefully sorted over a table de tri before their successive vinification, the exact details of which depends on the cuvée in question.
Throughout the range you will find there is stylistic continuity, with great tension, focus, vibrant fruit harnessed to absolute linear precision. The reds show a brilliantly judged balance between intense crunchy berry fruits, brooding matiere, croquant tannic grip, and a lingering refined floral element mixed with lovely bite and length.