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2014 Chinon “Les Varennes du Grand Clos”

Charles Joguet

2014 Chinon “Les Varennes du Grand Clos” Charles Joguet - Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

In the Loire Valley’s great appellations of Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny, the Cabernet Franc grape is capable of producing some of France’s finest reds. From the best vineyard sites, these wines can rival top Bordeaux in age-worthiness, and the price of entry is a mere fraction compared to that of a classified growth. Les Varennes du Grand Clos is a slope of siliceous clay and limestone that has proven its ability to yield complex Chinons that stand the test of time—old bottles from decades past are still in their prime. Farming is organic, and the wine ages for over a year in barrel before bottling. The trademark of Les Varennes is its finesse: while structure is certainly not lacking, there is a harmony to fruit, acid, and tannins that allows us to pull the cork today. Its earthy flavors pair perfectly with rustic French cuisine; try a beef stew or wild mushrooms for a guaranteed match.

Anthony Lynch

Vintage: 2014
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Cabernet Franc
Appellation: Chinon
Country: France
Region: Loire
Producer: Charles Joguet
Winemaker: Kevin Fontaine
Vineyard: Planted in 1962 to 1976, 4.61 ha
Soil: Siliceous chalk & clay
Aging: Wine ages in oak fûts for 15-16 months, depending on the vintage, after racking, the finished wine rests assembled in cuve for two months before bottling
Farming: Organic (practicing)
Alcohol: 13%

More from this Producer or Region

About Loire

The defining feature of the Loire Valley, not surprisingly, is the Loire River. As the longest river in France, spanning more than 600 miles, this river connects seemingly disparate wine regions. Why else would Sancerre, with its Kimmeridgian limestone terroir be connected to Muscadet, an appellation that is 250 miles away?

Secondary in relevance to the historical, climatic, environmental, and cultural importance of the river are the wines and châteaux of the Jardin de la France. The kings and nobility of France built many hundreds of châteaux in the Loire but wine preceded the arrival of the noblesse and has since out-lived them as well.

Diversity abounds in the Loire. The aforementioned Kimmderidgian limestone of Sancerre is also found in Chablis. Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur boast the presence of tuffeau, a type of limestone unique to the Loire that has a yellowish tinge and a chalky texture. Savennières has schist, while Muscadet has volcanic, granite, and serpentinite based soils. In addition to geologic diversity, many, grape varieties are grown there too: Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne are most prevalent, but (to name a few) Pinot Gris, Grolleau, Pinot Noir, Pineau d’Aunis, and Folle Blanche are also planted. These myriad of viticultural influences leads to the high quality production of every type of wine: red, white, rosé, sparkling, and dessert.

Like the Rhône and Provence, some of Kermit’s first imports came from the Loire, most notably the wines of Charles Joguet and Château d’Epiré—two producers who are featured in Kermit’s book Adventures on the Wine Route and with whom we still work today.

More from Loire or France

2014 Clisson “La Molette”

Domaine Michel Brégeon  France  |  Loire  |  Muscadet


2015 Vouvray “La Dilettante”

Catherine & Pierre Breton  France  |  Loire  |  Vouvray


2016 Pouilly-Fumé “Vieilles Vignes”

Régis Minet  France  |  Loire  |  Pouilly Fumé


2015 Bourgeuil “Cuvée Beauvais”

Domaine de la Chanteleuserie  France  |  Loire  |  Bourgueil


2016 Pinot Gris

Domaine de Reuilly  France  |  Loire  |  Reuilly


2014 Chinon “Le Clos Guillot”

Bernard Baudry  France  |  Loire  |  Chinon


2016 Vouvray “La Dilettante”

Catherine & Pierre Breton  France  |  Loire  |  Vouvray


2016 Bourgueil “Trinch”

Catherine & Pierre Breton  France  |  Loire  |  Bourgeuil


2015 Bourgueil “Nuits d‘Ivresse”

Catherine & Pierre Breton  France  |  Loire  |  Bourgueil


2015 Sancerre Blanc “Cuvée Marcel Henri”

Daniel Chotard  France  |  Loire  |  Sancerre


2016 Sancerre “Côte des Embouffants”

Domaine Roger Neveu  France  |  Loire  |  Sancerre


2015 Chinon “Les Varennes du Grand Clos”

Charles Joguet  France  |  Loire  |  Chinon


Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch

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