Use promo code LOIRE20 to take 20% OFF this and other wines in the Autumn in the Loire Collection.
Charles Joguet, our artist/vintner from Chinon, survives from one year to the next, always on the verge of bankruptcy. Years ago he was swindled by the company that constructed a set of fermentation vats. While he was figuring out how to fight the wolf at the door, along came a friend who showed him a piece of property for sale. “I had heard of the place,” Charles told me recently. “It was called Le Chêne Vert, or The Green Oak, named after an 800-year-old oak there, which was cut down about 400 years ago. So I went to look it over. I remember that afternoon, there was a splendid sunset illuminating the old city of Chinon. I knew that Le Chêne Vert was one of the two parcels originally planted at Chinon by the monks in the eleventh century. They introduced the Cabernet Franc here, and they knew what they were doing because Le Chêne Vert is certainly the most extraordinary site for the vine at Chinon. “I saw the ancient cellar, the soil, the vines, but half the property was grown over wild, the other half in untended old vines. What a job, I thought, to put it back into shape, because the terrain is steep and rocky, very difficult to work. None of the other winegrowers were interested in it. “It was to be auctioned off. It is an old custom here, une vente à la bougie; a candle burns on a piece of wood, and when it goes out the auction is over. It takes two or three minutes. “I was curious to see what the land would go for, so I went to the auction. The only serious bidder wanted it as pasture for his sheep! No one thought I would buy it, especially me. At the last moment I opened my mouth and voilà, the candle went out. I said to myself, ‘Zut, where will I find the money?’ It was cheap, but when you are broke nothing is cheap.” Now, several years later, Charles says his gamble paid off and Le Chêne Vert will produce his finest Chinon. Start a collection of vintages with this fabulous 1985. It has a dense, complex nose, lots of flavor and character. There is no other wine like it.
** This passage comes from our June 1987 newsletter. **
Charles Joguet, a young painter and sculptor, abandoned a budding art career to assume direction of the family domaine in 1957. He began to question the common practice of selling grapes to negociants, as his family had done for years. The Joguets owned prime vineyard land between the Loire and Vienne Rivers with distinct variations in the soils. To sell the grapes off or vinify the individualized plots together would have been madness. Separate terroirs, Charles believed, necessitate separate vinifications. He took the risks necessary to master single-vineyard bottling with an artistry that Chinon had never before seen. Charles has since retired. Today, the eager and talented Kevin Fontaine oversees the vineyards and the cellars.
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.
When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:
1. Big wines do not age better than light wine. 2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration. 3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them. 4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would. 5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa