Guide to the Loire regions

Val du Loir

Producer profiles - Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir

Bénédicte de Rycke (1989)

Bénédicte de Rycke is a graduate of the Lycée Agricole in Macon, which is where she first met Jean-Michel Aubert. After both graduating in the mid early 1980s, they worked together at the Joseph Mellot wine shop and bistro in the centre of Sancerre. They were inspired to invest in the Loir after a visit in 1980 to Martial Boutard, who was at that time the ‘voice’ of the Jasnières appellation, and in 1985 they acquired their first piece of land, two hectares in Le Clos des Longues Vignes, and started planting. They bought a property on the road between La Chartre and Marçon in 1987 and restored the old house there in 1990. Their first vintage, fortuitously, was in 1989 under the name of Aubert de Rycke. During the next ten years, they acquired a total of thirteen hectares in the two appellations from a variety of cultivateurs, old farmers who raised cattle as well as cereals. But in 1997 the marriage broke down and the vineyards were split. She retained the Jasnières vines and he took on those in the Coteaux du Loir. Jean-Michel established his own domaine, Aubert La Chapelle, in Marçon and Bénédicte remained at the cellar at La Pointe and started marketing her wines under her own name. Thankfully, the two remain friends, and after a quick call to Marçon it was Jean-Michel who took me through her wines on my visit. Bénédicte is now married to Thierry Honnons, a computer expert based in Paris, amateur vigneron and the ex brother-in-law of Philippe Sevault. They have recently bought another vineyard together in the Midi .

The slightly built and somewhat nervous Bénédicte is clearly headstrong and capable of expressing her own views, not least when it comes to her thoughts on the authorities. After recovering a parcel of vines on the ‘wrong side’ of a track that separates the Jasnières appellation from the Coteaux du Loir and having another wine turned down by the tasting panel as being atypical, she now vinifes the wine as a Vin de Table so as not to be dictated to by the authorities. As a mark of protest, the wine is called ‘Respect’ on the basis of the work carried out in the vines and the cellar in her quest for authentic wines. She points out that in France, Vin de Table cannot be chaptalised, where an appellation such as Jasnières can be - for the time being, at least. 

Wine Overview  :
The six hectares are planted mostly to Chenin, however there is a small parcel of Pineau d’Aunis called Trincottière in the commune of Ruillé-sur-Loir which is now rented out to Jean-Pierre Robinot. The Chenin is in the parcels of le Clos des Longues Vignes, les Bédueux, Sous-le-Bois, les Truffières, les Gargouilles and le Clos des Jasnières. Everything is farmed organically, although the harvest is mostly by machine. Hand picking is reserved for the steepest slopes or where a triage is necessary for collecting botrytised berries for the occasional release of Cuvée Préstige. All the wines are raised in stainless steel, which can make them quite reductive early on. The 2008 tasted in tank was particularly ‘flinty’ at this stage in its élevage.

The Wines :
Bénédicte clearly has a strong market for her wines as there is effectively nothing to purchase. My impression is that they are very good and even the Vin de Table is a true representation of the appellation, but these wines need some time to open up. Recommended.

2007 Jasnières ‘Cuvée Tradition’
Mid depth. Straw with green hints. Dry, austere and mineral nose. Backward, but shows potential. Palate is full of wet pebbles. Dry on entry. Builds well and has a multi-layered finish. Fresh, citrus and clean. Excellent structure and focus. Chalky textured. Very good length. Approachable, but would benefit with ageing. (12/08)

2004 Jasnières ‘Cuvée Préstige’
Very pale. Straw/green appearance. Clean and fresh. Quite tight and barely evolved. Mineral, dry and very closed. Mid weight on entry, the wine is carried by the acidity. Sprightly and youthful. Giving nothing away. It needs time. (12/08)

2001 Jasnières ‘Cuvée Tradition’
Polished appearance. Mid-full. Mature, yellow/gold, but hints of green. Old fashioned, resinous nose and very typical of the vintage. Not oxidised, but has the characteristic orange peel, dry botrytis flavours of the year. Dusty and smoky. Austere and dry on the palate. A wine for Chenin enthusiasts  only. (12/08)

(2006) Vin de Table Blanc ‘Respect - ‘Cuvée de Tradition’
Dry, firm and mineral with a stony nose. Tastes and smells like the real thing. As rich on the palate as the nose suggests. Good length and minerality. Approachable. (12/08)

(2005) Vin de Table Rouge ‘Respect - ‘Cuvée de Tradition’
The last vintage produced before renting the vines to Robinot. Bright. Mid-depth red with youthful pink rim. A bit volatile on the nose. The oak shows; creamy and a bit overdone. Dry on entry with decent red fruit expression. The VA is barely noticeable, but it still exists. Drink now. (12/08)

Bénédicte de Rycke
La Point
Marçon
T: + 33 2 43 44 46 43
F: + 33 2 43 79 63 54
P :+ 33 6 83 29 95 56
Benedicte.de-rycke@orange.fr

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