Daniel Chotard and his wife, Brigitte, live just outside Sancerre in the village of Reigny. The Chotard family has been making wine for well over two hundred years, though Daniel was initially reluctant to accept the family vocation and started as a teacher. Daniel is a bit of a Renaissance man. His enthusiasm and passion for learning extends beyond wine and into music; he is a gifted guitarist and accordion player. He organizes lively music and wine soirées that showcase wine as an equally compelling art form to jazz. He has also invited Kermit to bring his rootsy band to perform in Sancerre—stay tuned for concert dates! In recent years, Daniel has passed the reins of the domaine on to his son Simon. Simon practices sustainable farming, and uses organic composts to treat the vines. Typically, he harvests his grapes later than his neighbors, resulting in full-bodied wines with a rich complexity. He has also transitioned away from using cultured yeasts, fermenting every wine naturally—a rare feat in an appellation where technical winemaking is still the norm. Simon’s quest for a more authentic expression of terroir has led him to isolate certain parcels on the basis of soil, experimenting with different aging vessels in the cellar (demi-muids, acacia, foudres...) to find the best match. Like his father’s music, Simon’s Sancerre is luscious and complex with deep notes and a long, harmonious finale.
Daniel Chotard and his wife, Brigitte, live just outside Sancerre in the village of Reigny. The Chotard family has been making wine for well over 200 years. The terroir of Sancerre is widely regarded as producing one of the greatest expressions of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. The Chotards grow Pinot Noir as well, used to make both red wine and rosé. Daniel and his son Simon farm the slopes of the village Crezancy-en-Sancerre, a terroir of clay and the famous Kimmeridgian limestone. The hilltop town of Sancerre is surrounded by a commune of villages, each blessed with varieties of a distinct limestone that imbue a lengthy mineral component to its wines.
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.
Let the brett nerds retire into protective bubbles, and whenever they thirst for wine it can be passed in to them through a sterile filter. Those of us on the outside can continue to enjoy complex, natural, living wines.
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