With about 160 acres planted, Jasnières represents one of the Loire Valley’s smallest appellations. And yet it is home to one of its most distinctive expressions of Chenin Blanc, as this cool, stony terroir of clay, limestone, and flint yields wines unlike anything one might find in other Chenin AOCs such as Vouvray, Savennières, or Anjou. Pascal Janvier is a small grower in Jasnières intent on showing off the typicity and uniqueness of the area’s wines, and his 2016s do not disappoint. Racy, slightly honeyed, exotically perfumed, and loaded with minerality, this wine is an excellent representation of how Chenin reacts to the local conditions. The aroma is always fascinating—guava, flowers, citrus, clove, and gunflint are often cited; what do you pick out? This white’s versatility makes it a great choice for the gourmet adventurer, as simple dishes like fresh goat cheeses and buttery fish preparations work just as well as many Southeast Asian and Central American dishes.
Pascal Janvier never planned on becoming a vigneron. Though his parents had vineyard land of their own, they did not make their own wine. He went to school to learn butchery, but made a sudden about-face at the age of thirty and decided to study winegrowing. His decision was anything but a whim. Starting slowly, he has mastered his craft with focus and passion, contributing to the revival of the small appellation of Jasnières, the most northerly (and coldest) of the greater Loire region. The once proud appellations of Jasnières and the Coteaux du Loir are now all but extinct, with less than one hundred and two hundred hectares still respectively under vine. Pascal is doing his part to remind everyone what Jasnières is capable of.
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