A French Bistro Favorite to Drink This Month

Not that long ago, Saumur Champigny was a wine most familiar to Americans as a staple red of Paris bistros, light, fruity and easy to gulp.

That changed over the last 25 years primarily because of the brilliance of one estate, Clos Rougeard, which demonstrated that these wines, made of cabernet franc, could be as fine, complex, expressive and age-worthy as a top Bordeaux or Burgundy.

Clos Rougeard is now a cult estate, with bottles costing hundreds of dollars, if you can find them. But the example of Clos Rougeard has inspired other producers to approach both their viticulture and their winemaking with utmost care and conscientiousness.

This month, we’ll examine Saumur Champigny, which also happens to be a great fall wine. Here are the three producers I recommend:

Château Yvonne Saumur Champigny L’Île Quatre Sous 2016 (Coeur Wine Company, New York) $24

Thierry Germain Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny Terres Chaudes 2016 (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif.) $48

Antoine Sanzay Saumur Champigny 2016 (Vinergie, New York) $30

These are more or less entry-level bottles, easygoing introductions to each estate, even though one of them, Thierry Germain, is quite a bit more expensive than the others. They will not have the potential of the better cuvées, but they will be more ready to drink.

If you cannot find these wines, other producers I recommend include Arnaud Lambert, Domaine du Collier, Domaine Guiberteau, Sébastien Bobinet, Domaine Filliatreau, Domaine de Saint-Just and Château de Villeneuve.

Conventional food pairings would include dishes made with beef, lamb, veal and pork. If the weather turns cool, straightforward stews would be wonderful. These wines ought to go well with roast chicken, too.

As I say so often with red wines, give them a light chill before serving. Decanting these is not necessary, but it will not hurt if you enjoy the ritual.

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