Guide to the Loire regions


Grower Profiles

Jean-Max Manceau

Domaine de Noiré
For such a small and modest man, Jean-Max Manceau commands a huge amount of respect from his fellow vignerons, having maintained the position of President of the local grower syndicate since 1999 (Manceau claims that no one else wants the job). In addition to this, he also held one of the most prestigious roles within the appellation. Starting with the Gosset family in 1981, he was the oenologist at Château de la Grille for a total of 28 years, he only finally left the position in July 2009 after Grille was sold to Baudry-Dutour (see separate entries for both Château de la Grille and Baudry-Dutour). The opportunity to leave Grille meant that more time could now be devoted to his own venture. In 2002, Jean-Max and his wife, Odile took control of her family domaine located on the slope between Chinon and Cravant. Prior to this time, the wines of Domaine de Noiré had simply been sold off to the négociants

Now full time at Noiré, Manceau works the ten hectares owned by the family along with a further 5ha that are in location; the vineyards spanning across the slopes and plains between Chinon and Panzoult. Everything is planted to Cabernet Franc, although Jean-Max has just established first hectare of Chenin Blanc. The vineyards are worked organically and Manceau is expecting to receive certification with his 2015 harvest.

There are four wines produced on the domaine. Firstly, an intense and concentrated rosé is made by systematically drawing off juice from each cuvée - its depth is astonishing for a saignée. The 2010 vintage was probably the best single example of Chinon rosé I tasted on my research (in April 2011). The generic red carries the rather clichéd name of
Soif de Tendresse although the wine, a tank fermented early drinking style, is again one of the best early bottled Chinon's I have come across (the drawing off of juice for the rosé clearly aids the concentration of this cuvée, whilst maintaining the purity of fruit and freshness). The other two red wines are more controversial since both are raised in 400 litre oak barrels. Elégance is sourced from six hectares of 40 to 50 year old vines on the gravel plains of Cravant and Panzoult. Following fermentation in tank (and an 18 day maceration), the wine is committed to older barrels for ten months and then held back a further year before release. Caractère in contrast, comes from two hectares of sixty year old vines on the limestone slopes. The other difference being this sees a combination of newer oak; around 25% first-fill with the balance second and third year wood. 

Having tasted the wines at Noiré for the first time in April 2011, I now know that I can't personally hold Manceau responsible for the succession of poor wines produced during his tenure at Château de la Grille, since he was 'under orders' to produce a certain style of wine which relied on over-long maturation in wood. The wines he is producing on his own domaine are clearly the work of a man who understands what he is doing, although the most impressive wines I tasted were the rosé and the generic red; both very pure and true to type. The two oak aged reds, whilst well-handled, are simply lost behind the wood, which is a shame since they are very good wines in their own right - just out of place. There was just a hint of brettanomyces on one of the wines tasted, but otherwise these are all clean and pure. For me, Manceau would be one of my first ports-of-call to stock up on good generic Chinon red and rosé; the oak-aged wines I can live without.

Jean-Max Manceau
Domaine de Noiré
160 Rue de l'Olive

T: + 33 2 47 93 44 89
P: + 33 6 76 81 91 29
F: + 33 2 47 98 44 13

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