- Saumur-Champigny, Loire, France
Domaine Filliatreau lies above the city of Saumur in the village of Chaintre. Frédrik Fillliatreau is the fourth generation to run the estate. His great grandfather planted it with some vines but also with grains and vegetables, polyculture being typical in the French countryside at that time; Frédrik's grandfather made wine but mainly for the family while selling off most fruit. Things changed dramatically when Frédrik's father Paul took over in 1967. He began bottling and selling estate wine, making Filliatreau one of the first to do so in a co-op-driven region and era. Paul built a new cellar in 1978 and overhauled the winemaking approach, moving the wines from the more rustic, tannic, closed-concrete-tank style then typical of Saumur to a pioneering light, fresh, tank-aged style. It caught on quickly in Parisian bistros, which became and remains the main market for Filliatreau wines. Paul took much inspiration from celebrated Chinon vigneron Charles Joguet in cellar and vineyard, including beginning massale selection for all replanting of vines. Together, Paul and Frédrik tilted the farming gradually in a more natural direction; today Filliatreau is in conversion to organics.
Filliatreau has 43 hectares of vines in dozens of parcels large and small in the Saumur and Saumur-Champigny AOC's, planted mainly to Cabernet Franc with a bit of Chenin Blanc. Farming has been sustainable for decades but Filliatreau is fully committed to going organic: as of early 2019, 25 hectares were converted with the rest in progress. The vines range in age from 25 to 110 years old and are planted on sandy clay soils rich in the soft local limestone called tuffeau (from which houses are built and cellars dug all along this section of the Loire Valley). Harvest is mainly by hand into small bins (with some use of machines depending on the vintage circumstances). The fruit is hand-sorted, destemmed and fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks with temperature control. The wines are moved by gravity and aged almost exclusively in steel; they are bottled with a gentle filtration, with one special exception. Filliatreau wines are clean, bright and approachable, delivering incredible quality for modest prices and embodying the evolution of winegrowing, which this family estate truly helped shape, in the Saumur region.