Grab a sweater, roast a chicken, and pop a bottle.
Yes, it’s that time of year again. No, not to run out and grab a pumpkin spice latte, but to go through your closet and find an extra layer, preferably in knit form. I’m known around the shop for my sweaters. They come out on December 1st and are exclusively Christmas themed. Not ironic Christmas themed, but more like “made-by-Dockers, featuring a tasteful Polar Bear or Reindeer” themed. Still, I walk around town and people smirk and say, “Heh, nice sweater”—their tone undoubtedly sarcastic. I digress. We found this photo of Pascal Janvier and thought that he must like wearing sweaters about as much as I do. Then I thought about how much I like drinking Chenin Blanc, particularly his Jasnières. If Vouvray, the aromatic and floral cousin of Jasnières tastes like spring, then Jasnières tastes like fall. It’s that earthy aroma on the nose—the same thing you get walking on a stone path after a recent downpour—which follows on to the palate and adds a dose of dried rose petals. What’s more, there’s a robustness to this wine that makes it quite versatile at table, particularly with roasted bird. So there you have it. Grab a sweater, roast a chicken, and pop a bottle of Pascal’s 2017 Jasnières.
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.
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.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
Inspiring Thirst, page 312
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