Outside of Burgundy and the Rhône, it seems like a new "star" comes along maybe once a generation, building on the successes of their predecessors. In the Loire, the past several decades have squeezed out such luminaries as Didier Dagueneau, Charly Foucault (Clos Rougeard)...but who is next? We've seen some smaller producers (Boudignon, Richard Leroy, Bernaudeau) gain some acclaim, but with an eye to continued brilliance, I would venture to throw Sylvain Dittière and La Porte Saint Jean in the ring.
Sylvain's experience speaks for itself - a Saumur native who grew up on his mother's rose farm, set out to work for some of the absolute finest producers in France following his education: Gauby, Thierry Germain, and the Foucault family of Clos Rougeard.
From starting with only a few hectares, Sylvain began to craft both Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc, much like his neighboring mentors, and has since grown the holdings to include old-vine Sauvignon Blanc. What defines his vision and success is extreme diligence in the vineyard, where naturally low-yielding vines are maintained organically, and the harvested fruit goes through an extreme selection (only the best grapes are kept).
One of the more fun wines on the site right now is the Six Roses, a Pet-Nat (Petillant Naturel, a sparkling style where the fermentation finishes in bottle, rather than a second fermentation being forced upon it, like Champagne) where Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc are macerated with rose petals, in homage to his mother. I think you could have found a distinct floral aroma from these grapes anyway, but now we've really incepted the idea! It truly works - perfectly complements the natural zest and hints of white pepper in this supremely refreshing wine.
As I alluded to earlier, Chenin Blanc is a bit of a difficult one for me to consistently gravitate toward - those examples of brittle dryness, with extreme acidity just have never appealed to me. However, in my estimation Dittière's touch is unparalleled. Les Pouches Blanc is sourced from clay and sand soils, and has incredible concentration of orchard and stone fruits, almost curd-like in aromas with a brilliant mineral strike not unlike Meursault. Absolutely stunning.
His Saumur-Champigny, however, may be one of the greatest steals on our site. Sorry to keep with the Burgundian theme here, but this isn't the dark, brooding super-savory Cab Franc of other producers, but beautifully aromatic with spice, red and dark fruits and lush, fine tannins. Truly masterful. I want to stockpile this just so I can watch the journey of the wine unfold over decades!