Guide to the Loire regions

Côtes du Forez

Grower Profiles

Odile Verdier et Jacky Logel
This husband and wife team met in Jacky Logel’s native Alsace in 1991 and were installed a year later at Odile’s family farm on the slopes below the Château de Marcilly, where they produced their first 2,000 bottles of wine. At this time, Odile’s parents delivered all of their grapes to the co-operative electing instead to dedicate their time to raising Charolais. But as Odile and Jacky took control they disposed of the cattle to concentrate on viticulture, gradually withdrawing from the co-op and becoming completely independent by the 1998 vintage. A decade later, their domaine produces an average of 70,000 bottles of a wine a year and the couple have become one of the most respected names in this otherwise small region.

In addition to 12.7 hectares of Gamay, Jacky has also established two separate parcels of Pinot Gris, a legacy of his Alsatian roots, which is sold as Vin de Pays d’Urfé. The original 4 ares were planted at the foot of the famous priory at Montverdun on the Forez plain (and well outside the Côtes du Forez appellation) in 1996, the first crop being realised in 1999. Spurred on by his efforts, a second parcel was planted in 2004 on the slopes at Champdieu, the same year as he planted 8 ares of Viognier.

Odile and Jacky farm their entire 15 hectares organically and unsurprisingly everything here is hand harvested.  

There are four red wines and a rosé produced here under the Côtes du Forez appellation. The Rosé is clean, fresh and light despite the fact that Jacky says he is obliged to make due to client demand, and he’d rather channel all his efforts into making his red wines. Cuvée des Gourmets corresponds to older vines grown on granite soils, whilst Amasis takes its name from the Queen of Forez in Honoré d’Urfé’s L’Astrée - in the novel, the Queen lived in the château that dominates the hillside above the vineyards of Marcilly. The wine is light and friand and designed for early drinking. La Volcanique is planted on basalt soils and 90% destemmed and receives a cold macerated before it undergoes a three week cuvaison. The result is very elegant, with a profile closer to Pinot Noir than Gamay. Feux de Forez is a play on words, inferring ‘forest fire’, since the wine (which corresponds to La Volcanique) spends six months in oak. Again, this is a wine that Jacky doesn’t like, but has a following for it from certain clients. The wine sadly is too international, loosing any sense of place or variety as it is completely dominated by wood.  

In addition to the wines produced under the appellation, there are also three wines produced as Vin de Pays d’Urfé. Pierrelune Pinot Gris sur Granite is from the second parcel of Pinot Gris to be planted, in Chamdieu, in 2004. The wine is complex, nutty and distinctly oxidative and certainly not mainstream. It’s probably closer to a Jura wine than anything Alsatian. (It is sold in 50cl bottles). La Sentimentale Pinot Gris is from the vines planted on the slope below the priory of Montverdun. The 2008 (also bottled in 50cl) has a ripe smoky Pinot Gris nose with hazelnuts and the fat of a typically Teutonic example. The palate is silky and linear, with great balance and structure with flavours of quince and ripe peach. A Pinot-Grigio deluxe. Viognier Petite Vertu is a 10hl cuvée that comes from the same vineyard as the Pierrelune and has (for Viognier at least) a low alcohol of just 11%. The wine echoes Jacky’s origins, with more grapey muscat-like flavours, rather than the overblown style of the Rhône.  

Finally, there is Rimbambulles, a low (8%) alcohol Méthode Ancestral sparkling wine, echoing the recent efforts of a hand full of growers in the Roannaise, although at just 3g/l residual sugar it is much drier than the examples found further north. The drier style lends the wine great minerality and an attractive malic edge and is dangerously delicious.

Wine Overview :
From initially appearing cautious and guarded, Jacky Logel opens up to become and lively and humourous man, full of criticism for his wines - and the taste of his clients. Despite being an outsider, he has been welcomed into the region and has also served a term as the President of the local grower syndicat. In terms of the wines, the couple do produce some of the best examples of Côtes du Forez, although the real star in the cellar (and perhaps the best wine tasted on my tour through the region) are the Pinot Gris wines, which are highly individual but full of character. These alone are worth seeking out. Domaine Verdier Odile certainly deserves its reputation as being one of, if not the, leading domaine in the region.  

Odile Verdier et Jacky Logel
La Côte
T: + 33 4 77 97 41 95
F: + 33 4 77 97 48 80


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