Guide to the Loire regions

Chinon

Grower Profiles


Spring in Le Clos de Chêne Vert vineyard

Domaine Charles Joguet

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 1988.

The name Charles Joguet is synonymous with the wines of Chinon, although the man himself retired in 1997 after his 40th vintage in Sazilly. Born in 1931, Joguet arrived relatively late to wine despite the fact that he came from a family of viticulteurs. He originally studied art at the Ateliers du Montparnasse and becoming a graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris; Joguet had known from a early age that he wanted to be a painter and, over time, an accomplished sculpture too. Well travelled, he visited Italy to study the Old Masters and also spent time in New York. But in 1957 his father died suddenly and he knew that he couldn't leave his mother to run the domaine. At this point, vineyards formed only part of his parents enterprise, since this was a domaine built upon mixed farming run, from a simple bourgeois house, in the middle of the village. The wine produced by Victor Joguet was simply sold off by the cubitainer to a succession of private clients. 

It's fair to say that Charles had no clue about winemaking, but he knew from the start that he would not be able to make a living out of becoming a full-time vigneron. As a result, he divided his time between living the life of a bohemian in Paris and playing at being a farmer in Sazilly. Although he had no experience or training, he at least approached the subject with the mind of an intellectual but also taking advice from Messieur Taffoneau, a highly respected local vigneron, who became his mentor. Over time, Charles became more and more fascinated with the culture of the vine and started to spend longer periods in Sazilly, returning to Paris at the weekends to catch up with his wife, then a notable theatre critic.

Joguets outstanding legacy in the appellation is for the implementation procedures that would be considered common practice today. He was one of the first vigneron in Chinon to start bottling his own production; initially conducted so that his elderly mother wouldn't have to negotiate
the cellar stairs to draw wine off from the barrel for their local clients (the capsules still today retain the initials of Joguet's mother, the domaine being inherited through the maternal family line). He was also the first to introduce the concept of vinifying and bottling younger and older vines apart (see below) and for separating the different parcels to produce site specific cuvées as well as being the first in the region to raise his wine in second hand Bordeaux barrels (famously acquired from Château Latour circa 1970). Considered by his peers as a risk taker, Joguet was always one of the last in the appellation to harvest and running the affairs of the domaine on the verge of bankruptcy. To this end, he invited his chartered accountant, Jacques Genet, to invest in the business in 1985, bringing some sense of financial stability. A Chinonnais himself, Genets family also owned a few vineyards in the Véron and these were quickly incorporated into the domaine and the injection of cash allowed Joguet the luxury of employing salaried workers for the first time, employing winemaker Michel Pinard and a general manager in Alain Delaunay who took control of the day-to-day running of the domaine. 

A man of few words, Joguet objected to people trying to draw a comparison between being an artist and a winemaker, yet remained modest about the achievements of his dual careers. Following his retirement, the domaine was acquired outright by Genet, with Joguet withdrawing from the scene for the next 15 years, returning to Paris where he continued to paint, sculpt and exhibit his work. Delaunay remained as general manager until his own retirement, whilst Pinard was eventually replaced with a young winemaker called François-Xavier Barc, or (FX to his friends) until he left to set up his own domaine in 2009. More recently Joguet has returned to Sazilly to live out his life in the family house in the village, but despite entering his 9th decade, he continues to paint. Today the domaine is run by Genets daughter, the very capable Anne-Charlotte, whilst the viticulture and winemaking is conducted under the watchful eye of Kevin Fontaine. 

There are now around 40 hectares of vineyards under the control or ownership of Domaine Charles Joguet with fruit sourced from across the communes of Sazilly, Chinon, Anché and Beaumont . Vinification, for all the top wines at least, is conducted in the cellar next to the Clos de la Dioterie, whilst the domaine also has access to a huge network of caves (hewn out of the limestone in the 15th Century) close to the village of Marçay which are used for storage and entertaining. 

VINEYARDS AND WINES


Le Clos du Chêne Vert
This renowned vineyard sits above Le Haut Olive; the two hectares facing south-south-west towards the town. The vineyard takes its name from the green oak that dominates the top of the slope and it is believed to have been planted here by the Benedictine monks from the abbey of Bourgueil in the 11th Century, presumably at the same time they were planting their first vines. Despite a couple of attempts to cut it down it continues to grow and, due to its strategic positioning, it is said that it never casts a shadow over the vines. Just below the oak there is a cellar-cave extracted from the rock. It demarcates the point where the soil profile changes from heavy clay with large stones to being light and friable; said to produce more perfumed and aromatic wines.

The story of how Charles Joguet acquired Le Clos du Chêne Vert is well documented but recited again here, in brief, for posterity. Despite nearly 1,000 years of continuously being planted, by 1976 the vineyard had been abandoned. What vines remained were overgrown with brambles and wild fennel. The land had recently been inherited by Monsieur Terray, a local oenologist known to Joguet, who had no interest in either keeping or propagating the vineyard. Terray approached the vigneron to make him aware of the sale which, as local custom dictated, was to be conducted by candle auction. By this point, no single wine grower had come forward expressing an interest to buy the land. In fact, the only potential bidder wanted the slope for grazing his sheep. Joguet claims he had no money but ended up buying the vineyard anyway (for a modest 4,800 Francs) and replanting started the same year. During this period, Joguet was still partly using horses to work the soils (he was only able to afford his first tractor in 1966). Being on the wrong side of the Vienne and 12 kilometres away from his cellar and, understandably, the initial reaction was that his sudden impulse to purchase Chêne Vert was something of a foolish and impractical long-term decision. 

Because of the very active limestone soils, Joguet elected to graft onto 41B rootstock and the vineyard material was all sélection massale. Le Chêne Vert is always the first of the Domaine Joguet wines to be harvested; usually 12 days in advance of Le Clos de la Dioterie.

Le Clos de la Dioterie is, along with Le Chêne Vert, the best of Domaine Joguet’s vineyard holdings. Unlike its counterpart, it is nothing to look at; a simple, shallow slope, facing north and located next to a couple of undistinguished grain silos. The soil here appears to be heavy clay with some sand and gravel, although the vines apparently sit very close to the limestone sub-soil which is particularly active. Famous since The Middle Ages the walls of this 2.2 hectare clos have long since disappeared (although Joguet did rebuilt some of the upper section in 1970). The vineyard is currently around 90 years old and split into two with the upper and lower halves delivering slightly different levels of maturity at harvest time. The two resulting wines are blended - a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its individual parts. The north-facing orientation ensures that Le Clos de la Dioterie is one of the last parcels in the appellation to be harvested.  

At 4.5 hectares Les Varennes du Grand Clos is a natural extension of Dioterie and enjoys the same north to north-east orientation and a similar soil profile: clay with some silica at the top of the gentle slope and a more sandy-gravel terrace at the foot. In terms of how the resulting wines might differ from the adjacent parcel, the vines in Les Varennes du Grand Clos are said to produce smaller bunches and berries resulting in lower yields, but with greater concentration and lower alcohol. The vineyard was partly replanted by Joguet between 1962 and 1976. At this stage half the vines were 40 years old and the rest were over a hundred. It was the older ceps that had to go, but even so, Joguet couldn’t bear the thought of blending the juice of the remaining 40 year old vines with that of the younger plants. It was from this emotive decision that the concept of young and old vine cuvées is said to have been introduced to the Chinnonais. In 1982-1983, permission was granted by I.N.R.A. (the National Institute of Agricultural Research), to part replant a section of vineyard with ungrafted vines. Today, a strip of bare land between Les Varennes du Grand Clos and Dioterie marks the spot where these vines used to be; they were grubbed up in 2008 having finally been lost to phylloxera. A separate period of replanting took place between 1992 and 1995.

Le Clos de la Cure is a two hectare parcel in front of the village church, purchased by Joguet in 1970 and planted four years later. The soils are clay over deep gravel, with the grapes from here blended with another small parcel known as Piece de la Chapelle which lies next to the Joguet office and cellar in the centre of Sazilly. The resulting wine undergoes malo-lactic fermentation in 4 to 5 year old barrels where it is aged for around ten months. Prior to 2006 the wine was raised in tank. Unable to refer to the wine as a clos on the label, it is released as Cuvée de la Cure

The Cuvée Terroir is the mainstay of the Joguet production and comes from rented vineyards on the sandy soils of the rive gauche and from the Genet family vineyards on the plateau above Beaumont. Raised in tank, it is responsible for around 35-40,000 bottles annually. Le Petite Roches is a relatively new introduction and is from vineyards based on gravels soils. This is also raised in stainless steel tanks. Les Varennes du Grand Clos (as noted above) is aged in barrels of between one and three years for around 16 months, whilst Le Clos du Chêne Vert and Le Clos de la Dioterie receive around 18 months in mostly new oak barriques. 

In the early 1990s Joguet rented three hectares of land on the limestone slopes above Saint-Georges-sur-Vienne (about four kilometres outside of the appellation boundary) and started planting Chenin Blanc in 1994. The resulting wine is released as Le Clos de la Plante Martin and classified as appellation Touraine. There is some motivation, however, to incorporate this commune into the appellation, hopefully by 2015. The objective here is to produce a barrel-fermented dry wine, although in certain years (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010) the conditions have allowed for the production of a little sweet wine too. 

TASTING NOTES:
Certain critics have long-since argued that the continued use of the name Charles Joguet is misleading (some have even used the word 'fraudulent') given the man himself has not been involved in the operation for the past 15 years or more. Personally, I don't share these concerns; it matters not. What I do query, however, is how the good name of Joguet has managed to remain in the consumers psyche as a point of reference for Chinon for so long. For the most part, I find the majority of the range not to be of a particularly high standard or quality, often showing some fundamental winemaking faults - my notes, below, attest to this. Whenever one gets to taste examples made by Joguet himself during the glory days of the 1980s one can instantly understand how easy it was to be seduced, since these were (and often remain) great wines. Sadly, their intrinsic quality and interest have rarely been matched since. 

Regardless of this, it is important to recognise that Domaine Charles Joguet continues to be one of the leading producers within the Chinon appellation, even if this is solely for one or two of the top cuvées, the quality of which can equally be somewhat inconsistent. My own philosophy for buying the wines would be to follow Le Clos de la Dioterie in isolation since this appears to be the best performer overall. As for the lesser wines, I couldn't bring myself to endorse anything that carry the Joguet name, since there are much better (and less expensive) examples produced elsewhere in Chinon.

2009 Cuvée du Terroir
Very tight. Reduced nose and palate. Good weight and flesh but needs time for the reduction to (hopefully) blow off. Quite firm acidity to finish. A modern, clean expression of Chinon, but a bit soulless. 35-40,000 bottles produced. (08/11) Footnote: a second bottle tasted (04/11) was showing some brettanomyces on the nose and palate.

2008 Les Petites Roches
Clean nose with a more obvious Cabernet Franc profile. A little lean and savoury on the palate with firm acidity (a function of the year). There is also some brettanomyces here and some grubby, dirty, yeasty notes too. There is a good core of Cabernet Franc fruit, but it fades quickly. (04/11)

2008 Cuvée de la Cure
8,000 bottles produced. Deep polished appearance. Noticeable oak on both nose and palate. A bit overdone, although the fruit profile is both clean and pure. Good fresh acidity. Builds well. The oak currently dominates but patience should be rewarded with keeping. This is still pretty taut, but the oak should rersolve itself over time. (04/11)

2008 Les Varennes du Grand Clos
Polished. Youthful purple. Serious, smokey, savoury nose. Well focused and pure on the palate with well-handled oak. Taut and grippy and currently unknit with the oak showing a little on the finish. This really needs time, but this might just be too firm for long term potential. (04/11)

2008 Le Clos du Chêne Vert
Serious, dense and brooding. Excellent weight and focus and appears to handle the oak much better. Greater freshness and balance and this already appears much more approachable than the other 2008s. Chalky textured. This has a promising future ahead of it. Will soften and improve further. (04/11)

2008 Le Clos de la Dioterie
Slightly savoury and metallic nose, but clean enough. Well focused with good structure, showing weight but also elegance. Still very pure with just a lick of oak which should integrate with time. Taut and mineral with more oak on the finish. Good (04/11)


2007 Les Cinq Climats
Palate and nose are both reduced as well as being a little bit animal. Lacks fruit and flesh. There is some bitterness on the finish too. Shallow and short. Dull and ordinary. (08/11)

2007
Le Clos du Ch
êne Vert
Modern. Oak and oak reduction to the nose and palate. Well textured with good balance, but currently lost behind the wood and the reduction. Firm acidity and lacks character with only the wood showing on the finish. So much for being a 'site specific' wine. (08/11)

2007
Le Clos de la Dioterie
Deep appearance. Youthful red. This shows some oak on the nose, but with much greater integration than the Chêne Vert. More complex and complete with less winemaking and more terroir. The oak shows on the palate but should harmonise over time. Still very young but shows great promise and in a different league to the above. (08/11)

2006 Les Varennes du Grand Clos – Franc de Pied
A bit dull on the nose. Cooked, confit character and some signs of oxidation. Concentrated palate, but also shows the same baked qualities of the nose. Lacks structure and is dull and flat. Over-ripe to the point of being Zinfandel-like and also gives the impression of some residual sugar. Tannins present on the finish. Cooked and over-ripe. (08/11)

2005 Les Petites Roches
Dense and concentrated. Full and ripe but the wine is lost behind the reduction. Mid-weight on entry. This is pretty dull and monotone with too much reduction for this point in its ageing. Very firm tannins to the finish. This may improve with time, but this is currently in a difficult phase. It shows the character of the vintage. Footnote: After a couple of days the wine had blown off the reduction but was showing signs of brettanomyces. Generally poor. (08/11)

2004 Les Varennes du Grand Clos
Mid-depth red. Good weight and concentration to the nose, but also shows some reduction. Unknit with firm acidity. Unbalanced, showing concentration but no real ripeness; even some green hints. Footnote: After a couple of days the reduction blew off but continued to show a fair degree of oak. Disappointing. (08/11)

2003
Le Clos de la Dioterie
Bright. Mid-full showing some evolution. Full and ripe on the nose; a true expression of the vintage. There is a tiny amount of brettanomyces on the nose, but currently within my personal tolerance level, but this doesn't bode well for the long term potential. The palate is better with less evidence of contamination. Good, ripe, soft and creamy with very good weight structure and concentration. Ripe but not confit. This will age further, although concerns remain about the presence of any brett which will only serve to dry the wine out as it ages. (08/11)

2001 Les Varennes du Grand Clos
Shallow but retains a youthful pure red appearance. Fragile nose. The palate is thin with only the acidity really remaining. Grippy and dusty tannins to the finish. This won't improve. Poor. (08/11) 

2000
Le Clos du Ch
êne Vert
Mature appearance. Dull, mature nose. This is tiring quickly. Light and shallow on the palate. Lacking fruit and beginning to tire. Quite firm acidity and even a suggestion of reduction on the palate. The acidity carries the finish. Hollow and short. Disappointing with some brettanomyces developing after a day or so of being open. Poor. (08/11)

1997
Le Clos de la Dioterie
Opaque. Dull and shallow in appearance. Mature. Light and shallow on the nose - almost like a chaptalised Pinot Noir
with its 'hollow calories'. The palate echoes the nose: shallow and dilute with the wine appearing to be held up by chaptalisation. There are some rustic farmyard notes to the finish. Poor. Drink up quickly. (08/11)

1996
Le Clos du Ch
êne Vert
1996
Le Clos de la Dioterie
Both bottles of the above tasted at the same time (08/11) were both out of condition. Judgment deferred on these since I have had good bottles in the recent past. 

1992
Le Clos de la Dioterie
Pale. Mature. Pale brick rim. Very ‘organic’ and stalky on the nose. Rhubarb and oyster shell palate and distinctly stalky. Rustic and green. Poor. (07/04)


1989
Le Clos de la Dioterie
Still youthful appearance. A touch savoury on the nose; distinctly sous-bois, but not without interest. Despite its age it still shows the ripeness of the vintage. Complex meaty flavours to the palate and retains good weight and concentration still. Multi-layered with great freshness. Sill holding up well. (08/11)

1985
Le Clos du Ch
êne Vert
Mid-pale. Orange to rim. Very delicate and restrained nose. This is still very fresh with a lovely balance to the acidity. Mineral and mature but certainly not tired as the acidity could be expected to preserve this wine further. This is the reason why we were all originally seduced by the wines of Charles Joguet. (08/11)

Domaine Charles Joguet
La Dioterie

SAZILLY
T: + 33 2 47 58 55 53
F: + 33 2 47 58 52 22
contact@charlesjoguet.com
www.charlesjoguet.com



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