LOIRE VALLEY - FRANCE
“It’s not only that Joguet makes good Chinon: it is that he is one of the rare vintners whose wines can be gripping aesthetically, spiritually, and intellectually, as well as sensuously’.” - Kermit Lynch
The wines of Chinon have long been celebrated. French humanist and native son, François Rabelais, sang their praises as far back as the sixteenth century. However, the distinction with which the appellation is regarded today is due in part to the legacy left by a more contemporary icon: Charles Joguet. This young painter and sculptor abandoned a budding art career to assume direction of the family domaine in 1957. He soon began to question the common practice of selling grapes to negociants, as his own family had done for years.
The Joguets owned prime vineyard land in between the Loire and Vienne Rivers, with some of their finest found on the left bank of the Vienne, just outside Chinon, in Sazilly. These very lieux-dits had been recognised for their character and defined before the Renaissance - some even date back to the Middle Ages. Variations in the soils of these alluvial plains were substantial enough to realize that he was sitting on what would be considered in other regions as premier cru and grand cru vineyards. To sell the grapes off or to vinify these individualised plots together would have been madness. Separate terroirs, he believed, necessitate separate vinifications. Over the course of his tenure, Charles took the risks necessary to master the single-vineyard bottling with an artistry that A.O.C. Chinon had never before seen. In so doing, he realised the true potential of the land.
Charles has since retired. Today, the young, eager, and talented Kevin Fontaine oversees the vineyards and the cellars. He and his team farm thirty-six hectares of Cabernet Franc. Closely adhering to the tradition of Charles, the domaine bottles nine different cuvées, handling each one as a unique terroir and microclimate with individualised care and attention. That ethic trickles into the cellars as well, where careful deliberation and experimentation bring about gradual change.
The wines are divided into two lines: precocious cuvées and those for long-ageing. Precocious cuvées, like the “Silenes”, are made to be consumed young - within a few years of release. If premier crus were permitted in Chinon, Les Varennes du Grand Clos would certainly be considered one of them. Clos du Chêne Vert and Clos de la Dioterie are perhaps their greatest wines - certainly of grand cru quality - with excellent ageing potential. Those who are convinced that the best Cabernet Franc grows in Bordeaux may quickly transfer their allegiance to the Loire upon tasting these classic, appellation-defining Chinons. The purity of fruit, the exceptional delineation of aromas and flavours, the soulful reflection of terroirs, and the extraordinary seductiveness of the texture make the wines from Joguet second to none.
Chinon ‘Silenes’ 2015
15-16/20, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com - “This cuvée has completed its malolactic fermentation, although there is clearly still a little residual carbon dioxide gas left over from the process. Aromatically it brims with fresh red fruits, red cherry and peony scents. It feels very fresh, bright and pure, with a lovely midpalate texture. A wine of lovely potential, for drinking early.”
Chinon ‘Les Charmes’ 2014
16.5/20, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com - “From clay soils on the slopes above Anché, 1 to 1.2 metres deep, over limestone. “The vines are open and well ventilated”, says Kevin. The élevage is in fûts for seven months, then it finishes in cuve. Bottled last week. A very pretty nose again, a trait that runs through the vintage at this domaine, with red cherry and perfumed cherry stone. A beautiful palate, cool, fresh and reserved, with a little silky suppleness to it, but more grip here too, more structure, the tannins coming in at the sides of the palate. A very pretty, classic style, perfumed, floral, but with a little roasted pip interest.”
Chinon ‘Clos de Chene Vert’ 2014
17-18/20, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com - “This vineyard has clay and limestone, a yellow tuffeau known locally as millage. Superficially, the soils contain more sand than the other vineyards, although about one-third has clay and flint too. It is west-facing, and takes the sun in the evening. It tends to ripen well as a result. A sample drawn from barrel. The nose is perfumed again, with sandalwood this time, and a little peony too. It feels very ample in the mouth, with a supple texture, a pure, fresh and polished style leading into a textured and grainy end. Despite its full structure it has elegance, with a lovely finesse and quality to the tannins. It feels long, grippy, with violets, toasted almond and dark-chocolate finesse. Quite beautiful, balanced and fine.”
Chinon ‘Clos de la Dioterie’ 2014
17.5-18.5/20, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com - “From the clay and limestone terroir behind the cellars. The élevage is partly in carrel, partly in cuve, and it is becoming increasingly lengthy, which Anne-Charlotte and Kevin feel is necessary for balance. Aromatically this is filled with dark toasted fruits, also touches of grilled almond, and it feels very pure. There follows a fresh, pure, supple and rather ample palate. It has a delicious texture, with grilled almond like the nose, also notes of toasted pips, underpinned with fresh, grippy and bright tannins. It rounds off into a very long finish, with a firm tannic length. It feels fresh, pure, with a textured finish laced with chalky fruit. An impressive showing, long and structured.”