2018 Charles Joguet “Les Varennes du Grand Clos” Chinon, Loire Valley, France

2018 Charles Joguet “Les Varennes du Grand Clos” Chinon, Loire Valley, France

$48.95

Description

“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 recognized 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 individualized 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 realized the true potential of the land.

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 recognized 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 individualized 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 realized the true potential of the land.  If premier crus were permitted in Chinon, Les Varennes du Grand Clos would certainly be considered one of them.” – Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant.

Charles Joguet is now retired in his 90s, and the reins have been handed over to Kevin Fontaine.  “The domaine has kept the legendary name and is still producing excellent wines. The organically certified 36 hectares of vineyards—predominantly old Cabernet Franc between the Loire and Vienne Rivers, with the oldest vines planted in 1930 and 1940—are widely spread and on many different soil types (gravelly, siliceous alluvial sands and limestone). Many plots are planted in late-ripening, north-facing sites to maintain the Loire-typical freshness and structure of Cabernet Franc.  All parcels are harvested and vinified separately, and the red grapes (there is a bit of Chenin Blanc too) are all destemmed and cold-macerated in either stainless steel cuvées or oak vats and fermented for up to four weeks. The aging takes place in either stainless steel tanks or used barrels for up to 18 months.”

Just reviewed at 93 points by Wine Advocate “The 2018 Chinon Les Varennes du Grand Clos Franc de Pieds comes from the foot of a gravelly terrace in Sazilly (on the left bank of the Vienne River) that was partly formed by the erosion of the limestone hillside. The vineyard has a very special silica-clay and calcareous terroir and was planted between 1962 and 1976. Aged in new to four-year-old French barrels for 15/16 months and another six months in vat, the 2018 offers a deep, pure, intense and fine bouquet of dark fruits, crushed stones and lemons as well as raw meat. Silky fresh and elegant on the first palate, this is a concentrated, fleshy and firmly structured Cabernet Franc with an impressive bead of mineral acidity and ripe, crunchy tannins that give energy and tension and a long and intense finish. This is a great Chinon for cellaring even though it already tastes impressively. This is an absolutely juicy Cabernet Franc that I’d age for at least 5-10 years, just to be amazed. Tasted in June 2021. Drink 2026-2040” – 93 points, Wine Advocate (August 5th, 2021)

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