Guide to the Loire regions

Val du Loir

Producer profiles - Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir

Domaine les Maisons Rouges (1994)

The Jardins are indicative of the interest in the appellation of Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir, their arrival in the region coinciding with the start of the regeneration of the wines of Savennières further south. Neither has a wine background. Benoît originates from Flers in Normandy, whilst Elisabeth is a Parisienne by birth. For the first ten years of his working life, Benoît was in telecommunications in Paris which is where he made some money, but had always wanted to be closer to the soil. In his career, he has also been an artisan potter, and glass blower. He studied in Tours as an agronomist, where he helped to raise horses, and it was during this period that his love of wine developed, spending three seasons between 1975 and 1977 working the vintage in Vouvray. In preparation for life as vignerons, Benoît went back to college at the Lycée Viticole at Blanquefort in the Médoc, whilst Elisabeth did a stage with Bénédicte de Rycke. They bought Les Maisons Rouge, a mixed farm which dates from the 19th Century, in 1994 and began to build up their domaine. Their decision to start at this time was lucky, but courageous nonetheless. The two appellations were at the nadir of their decline, coming on the back of four dismal vintages, but land was cheap and old vineyards could be acquired for comparatively little money.      

Wine Overview :
As of 2009, they farm ten hectares of vineyards including eight of Chenin, having acquired a further three hectares in the past year. Their objective is to own all their own vines, although for the moment they rent 1.7 hectares, split between four different growers in both appellations, including a parcel lease from the uncle of Jean-Marie Renvoisé. Of the vines they own, a total of 60% of the vines are more than fifty years old.

In Jasnières, they have parcels in le Clos des Jasnières itself, plus le Clos des Molières at the western edge, les Blettes, le Clos de la Gidonière and les Barrières which is partly planted, at the foot of the slope, with Pineau d’Aunis. The majority of their Coteaux du Loir vineyard holdings are centred on Lhomme and Ruillé-sur-Loir and are a natural extension of those within the Jasnières appellation. In Ruillé-sur-Loir they have parcels in la Fontanelle which is planted to Chenin and has large amounts of silex, la Bonnotière planted to very old vine Pineau d’Aunis at the top of the slope, and la Cailleterre which is also planted to Pineau d’Aunis. The three parcels in Lhomme are la Pierre Beurre, a very highly respected site for Pineau d’Aunis which contains quartz and silex, and les Blettes and l’Etre Pucelle which are both planted to Chenin. Across the river in Marçon, they have two plots, la Bossière, of which half is Pineau d’Aunis planted in 1904, and les Possiers, although this is being grubbed up and prepared for more Pineau d’Aunis. In Chahaignes, they have two parcels; les Forges which is planted to Chenin and les Nicassières, planted to Pineau d’Aunis. The vineyards are all farmed organically and everything here is harvested by hand.

In the cellar, the red wines are all aged in stainless steel, whilst all the whites are raised in barrel. Their preference has been for second hand white Bordeaux barriques, but they plan to move to larger 400 to 600 litre oak fûts in future. Where possible, their parcels are vinified apart, but with two small harvests in 2006 and 2007 it meant co-fermenting was the only viable option. Malolactic fermentation is not systematic, although they found that it occurred naturally for the 2005 and 2006 wines. The whites remain in wood for between 12 and 18 months.

The Wines :
I haven’t had an opportunity to taste too many of their older wines, which is unfortunate based on the current releases, below. These are very serious wines, although all are in need of time to show at their best. I certainly recommend that you buy them at any opportunity. The 2007 white wines tasted here were barrel samples and my notes should be read with this in mind. They are due to be bottled in April 2009.

2007 Jasnières ‘Clos des Molières’
Mid depth yellow. Clean on the nose but pretty closed. There is a hint of caramel. The palate is less rounded than the nose suggests, with green fig flavours. Good grip and a striking minerality. Stony. This is bone dry. Good structure and length. A true Jasnières. I expect it will be pretty closed on release and will need time to show itself. (12/08)

2007 Jasnières ‘Clos des Jasnières’
From 70 year old vines. Yellow/straw with green hints. Closed nose. Deep and concentrated on the palate with great structure, weight and presence. Bone dry and mineral, but is full of flesh. Very clean and linear. Fine acidity – more tartaric than malic in the makeup – which flows through the wine. Very good austerity to the finish. Excellent potential. (12/08)

2006 Jasnières ‘Clos des Molières’
Polished. Mid depth, straw. Some evidence of the botrytis that defines this vintage is present on the nose. Round, soft and approachable. Slightly ‘wilder’ expression. Bone dry, austere and lean on the palate. Very taut and mineral, yet backward. Orange skin like flavours from the botrytis. There are some phenolic hints here (the skins were very fragile in 2006). Concentrated, but typically dumb Chenin. It remains nascent and demands time. Persistent finish. (12/08)

2006 Jasnières ‘Sur le Nez’
A blend of Clos des Jasnières and Clos de la Gidonière. Polished. Deep yellow/gold. Clean and refined. Dull and faintly oxidative in style with a profile similar to some modern Savennières. Evidence of oak with a faint whiff of vanilla. Good structure and concentration. Taut and mineral with good grip. Less phenolic and more complete. Quite firm and austere with a chalky texture and firm acidity. Will be good, but needs time. (12/08)

2005 Jasnières ‘Clos des Jasnières’
Polished. Mid full yellow-gold. Clean, but very closed up. Mineral and very fine. It shows weight and roundness and its future potential. The palate is more intense and expressive. Powerful with linear acidity. Very clean and pure showing a serious sense of place. Rounded, but strict. Impressive, but still very immature. (12/08)

2005 Jasnières ‘Inclinaison’
Picked in early November, this is a triage of grapes from both Clos des Jasnières and Clos des Molières. Mid depth. Clear but not bright. Yellow/gold. Rich on the nose but pretty closed at present. Honey, coconut and acacia behind. Rich and showing some sweetness (29g/l). Open and more expressive on the palate. The alcohol shows a little. Firm, mineral and stony. Quite chalky and phenolic in texture. Concentrated with a firm finish. Some Chenin pithy-bitterness on the finish. Very closed. (12/08)

2003 Jasnières ‘Clos des Jasnières’
A Moëlleux, with 70g/l residual sugar, although the style is not marked on the label. Polished. Deep appearance. Straw/yellow/gold. Quite closed on the nose. Richly textured. Rounded, soft and approachable. Very good structure. Builds well. Flavours of quince and coconut. A little hot on the finish. Powerful and grippy and shows the heat of the vintage. Drinking now, but should evolve further. (12/08)

2007 Coteaux du Loir Rouge ‘Les Vieilles Vignes d’Aunis’
Polished. Youthful mid-full appearance with a purple rim. Excellent and very pure expression of the variety. More black pepper on the nose than white. Concentrated and very attractive. Taut, but with supple tannins on entry. Juicy, rich and concentrated. Lovely balance. Very pure on the palate too. Still quite grippy and will need time to settle. Persistent and very fresh with lovely acidity to the finish. Excellent. (12/08)

2005 Coteaux du Loir Rouge ‘Les Vieilles Vignes d’Aunis’
Dull, ruby centre. Mid depth. Youthful purple rim. Round, soft and pure on the nose. Very clean and shows some evolution, but still could do with more time. Tannins are firmer and more backward. Less obviously Pineau d’Aunis at this stage. Ripe and shows very good potential. (12/08)

Elisabeth & Benoît Jardin
Domaine les Maisons Rouges
Les Chaudieres
Ruillé-sur-Loir
T: + 33 2 43 79 50 09
P: + 33 6 87 14 45 51
F: + 33 2 43
79 50 09
benoitjardin@free.fr
www.maisonsrouges.
fr 

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