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2021 Chinon Blanc “Les Charmes”

Charles Joguet
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This blanc from Chinon may be the rare bird in a land planted mostly to rouge, but that’s not what makes Les Charmes exceptional; it’s the care. From vines situated in clay and limestone soil, to a long and cold fermentation that coaxes out a wealth of aromas—green apple skin, candied lemon rind, even nips of ginger—to the amount of time the wine spends aging and developing before release (2021 is the current vintage, where most current blancs are on 2023). It’s bright and zesty, but a whiff of clarified butter emerges now and again to do what butter does best: enhance and make it even more savory. 

Allyson Noman

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Technical Information
Wine Type: white
Vintage: 2021
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Chenin Blanc
Appellation: Chinon
Country: France
Region: Loire
Producer: Charles Joguet
Winemaker: Kevin Fontaine
Vineyard: Planted in 1994 to 1999, 3 ha
Soil: Limestone, clay
Farming: Organic (certified)
Alcohol: 13.5%

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About The Region

Loire

map of 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.

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Where the newsletter started

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

Read the whole story

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