Guide to the Loire regions

Val du Loir

Producer profiles - Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir

Michel Boulay (1976)

Boulay’s mother was from the village of Marçon and he was bought up on modest means. He moved to Le Mans and made his fortune as a chemist, owning his own laboratory in the city. From 1976, he began acquiring vineyards and land, mainly in Jasnières, but also in the Coteaux du Loir. By 1985 he had a total of ten hectares as well as owning four different caves around the region. He lives in Parigne l’Eveque, about 15km from Le Mans and is a ‘weekend’ farmer. In the early 1990s he began to start leasing out some of his vineyards. In 1994 he rented vines to Eric Nicolas, albeit for one season only, before Boulay elected to take back the vines and offer them to someone else. His current tenants include Philippe Sevault and Christine de Mianville, and more recently he has started to sell of some of his vines. He has a wealth of older vintages, back to 1989, available for sale at his cellar and in late 2008 began to sell these off. His reason, when interviewed in the local press, was partly to reduce his stocks and partly to give the world an opportunity to taste some older vintages.

He has three daughters aged between their late teens and early 20s, and a cuvée is named after each: Lucie (sec), Camille (demi-sec) and Louise (doux). The style of the wine apparently describes the demeanour of each child.

Wine Overview :
Boulay’s vines are between 15 and 25 years old and primarily planted to eight hectares of Chenin with one of Chardonnay. He also has one combined hectare of Gamay and Pineau d’Aunis from which he makes a single red blend. The vines in Jasnières are in Clos des Mollières, Sous-le-Bois and Clos Saint Jacques. Boulay also has holdings in Marçon for Coteaux du Loir making both red and white. Three quarters of the vines are hand harvested. The vinification cellar is in La Chartre-sur-le-Loir, next to those of Joël Gigou, although the stock is kept at a different cave in Poncé-sur-Loir. All the wines are raised in barrel under the aegis of Régis Breton.

The Wines :
Given the distinguished sites, the wines themselves are ordinary and disappointing. The older vintages below, all of which are still available, are more a curiosity and give an impression of the way the wines evolve, but I suspect they were never great to start with. There are many more old vintages in the cellars than I have tasted, so there may well be a hidden gem. Who knows? The prices are inexpensive enough to buy a range and experiment further.

2005 Coteaux du Loir Blanc
Old fashioned, traditional style of Chenin. Quite firm acidity marked by some wood. There are some light vanilla and coconut flavours. A touch dried out on the finish. Drink soon. (12/08)

2005 Coteaux du Loir Rosé
Decent, with some spice to the fruit. Austere, mineral edge with some grainy texture to the tannins. Quite phenolic. Should age, but undistinguished. (12/08)

2005 Jasnières ‘Cuvée Camille’
Polished. Yellow/gold. Quite rich on the nose, but closed. Dry and mineral on entry, but with obvious sweetness on the mid palate. Good weight and balance with a good thread of acidity. Well textured and approachable now, but would age further. (12/08)

2005 Jasnières ‘Cuvée Louise’
The label gives no indication of the style. Clear and bright. Mid depth yellow. Quite closed on the nose. The palate suggests a petit moëlleux, in style. Delicate, with a fine acidity. It lacks some of the concentration and definition one would expect in a distinguished year. A little phenolic on the finish. Sweetness shows. The wine is drinking now and should age a few years. (12/08)

2003 Jasnières ‘Clos Saint Jacques’
Vinified dry. Austere with severe acidity for such a rich year. Chalky textured and quite mineral. Ordinary. (12/08)

1997 Jasnières ‘Clos des Mollières’
Bright. Mid-full yellow-straw. Rich and mature on the nose. Palate shows flavours of bruised and baked spiced apples. Not a classic for a great year. Drink now. (12/08)

1990 Jasnières ‘Clos Saint Jacques’
Bright. Mid-pale. Distinct green tinge to appearance. Reductive nose, although though at this age, I’d like to believe it was the influence of silex... Serious and very mineral. Juicy. A bit pithy on the finish. Flavours of baked apples. Drinking now and should hold, although unlikely to evolve further. (12/08)

1989 Coteaux du Loir Rouge ‘Cuvée de la Charrière
100% Pineau d’Aunis. Bright. Light orange/brown appearance. Good graduation to garnet rim. Mature nose, not dissimilar to an old Pinot Noir. Very gentle on entry with soft tannins and acidity. Mature with some signs of oxidation, but still drinkable, with the gamey flavours of an old Pinot. There is still a little touch of spice on the finish. Drinking now. Won’t improve. (12/08)

Michel Boulay
Domaine la Tendrière
La Charrière
La Chartre-sur-le-Loir
T/F : + 33 2 43 75 82 22 (domicile)
T/F : + 33 2 43 44 49 27  (cave)
P : + 33 6 86 96 81 38

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