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Originally from Sancerre, Jean Vatan migrated down the Loire to eventually settle in Saumur. This was in 1798.  Jean’s father, Pierre, as a vigneron in Sancerre in 1714. Philippe Vatan, along with his brother, Pascal, and Georges their father decided to pursue winemaking together. Prior to that, Philippe had operated apple and pear orchards. However, Pascal unexpectedly passed away in 1988. After a period of regrouping, winemaking resumed in 1989 and 1990.

 

The vineyard of Chateau du Hureau covers some 20 plots  over 20 hectares, in and around the villages of Dampierre sur Loire, Souzay-Champigny, and Saumur. Of that, 18.5 hectares are planted to Cabernet Franc in the appellation of Saumur-Champigny. The remaining 1.5 hectares are planted to Chenin in the appellation of Coteaux de Saumur.  The entirety of their vineyard is Tuffeau. This is a cretaceous-era sedimentary limestone. These same stones are what the castles of the Loire are constructed of. Tuffeau  is a desirable base soil, as it retains warmth brilliantly, acting as a temperature regulator. Additionally, it offers excellent drainage, which is important for not waterlogging the vines during rainy times, and during drought the vines are able to penetrate into the ground in search of vital water.  All of this is ideal for the production of top notch Cabernet Franc and Chenin, which favour these conditions.

 

The Chateau itself is a unique structure with elements from the 15th century, 18th century, and beyond, including old residences, a troglodytic pigeon-house and turret, and an octagonal tower, as well as a cave for the storage of the wine, grown in the vines above. Burrowed out over a millennium, the cave at Hureau, is just one of many, in a regional network. Those that did the digging benefitted twice, as they would sell the rocks off for construction purposes, while creating durable shelter for their livestock, harvest, wine, and themselves.

 

It would become apparent over time that these caves were ideal for the vinification and aging of wine as well, given the cool, consistent temperatures. It was decided over 30 years ago to remain in the caves, and build out modern facilities within. Flash to 2009, Chateau du Hureau is now operating organically. They use no herbicide, nor synthetic sprays. Georges passed away in 2013, at the age of 88. Philippe’s elder daughter, Agathe, began  working with her father beginning in 2014. Today, they hold Ecocert certification.

 

Tuffe

 

This is 100% Cabernet Franc, sourced from 15 parcels of grapes of varying age, in and around Saumur and Dampierre/Loire, with Tuffeau being the common denominator. Tuffe is composite of the area, designed to express the broader region, and to be approachable in every sense.  Canopy management is done by hand. Harvest is mechanical, yet in keeping with Ecocert rules. Maceration is between 25 and 35 days. Vinfication is with indigenous yeasts. After malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged between 12 and 24 months, depending on how each batch is developing. Tuffe is an intense Cab Franc, with blackberries, plum, and black cassis, with a hint of cola and green bell pepper. All of this is kept lively by prolific acid and minerality. The winery recommends to have this wine with a juicy hunk of beef.

 

 

 

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