Guide to the Loire regions

Val du Loir

Producer profiles - Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir

Pascal Janvier (1991)  

Dominique and Pascal Janvier

he slightly built, quietly spoken Janvier comes over as being very serious and precise in the way he approaches everything in his life. His father had vines- in fact Pascal rents them from him today - but it was never a forgone conclusion that Pascal would become a vigneron. He studied to be a butcher, in preparation for the life of a traiteur, at the Lycée in Amboise, which is where he met Dominique, his wife. But at the age of thirty he decided to start making wine. They bought a very modest house on the cereal plain below the le Clos des Jasnières. His first vintage was in 1991. It was the year of the great frost and he managed a yield of just 5hl/ha. Luckily, he hadn’t given up the day job, which he was to keep for another three years. In 1992, the vines compensated and he harvested ‘a mountain’ of wine, although the quality remained indifferent. 

Wine Overview :
He now controls some nine hectares of vines, of which a total of four are rented. All are within the communes of Lhomme and Ruillé-sur-Loir. He used to rent a parcel in Marçon, but it just wasn’t financially viable to maintain. That decision did not necessarily simplify his life, as he still works a total of 66 different parcels, owned by around twenty different proprietors across the two communes.

In Jasnières, he works nearly six hectares of vineyards of which 2.75ha are his own vines. Parcels are at both extremes of the appellation and most sites in between: le Clos des Molières, les Bourgaudières, Sous-le-Bois, le Clos du Bénard, le Clos des Jasnières, les Fleuries, le Clos Saint Jacques, Panorama and les Gargouilles. From these parcels he makes two cuvées a year, ‘Silex’ which comes from the same vines every year, and a standard cuvée. Occasionally, he will make a sweet wine, although he doesn’t set out to achieve this. In years like 2003, however when everything was sweet, he didn’t have much choice other than to work with nature. To date his ‘Cuvée Saint Marcise’ has been produced in 1996 (his favourite vintage since he started in 1991), 2000, 2003, 2005 and potentially in 2008.

The 2008 vintage is the first time since 1991 that the wines have shown any sign of going through malolactic fermentation, and even now we are talking of one tank of Coteaux du Loir Blanc, which has gone through a 30% second ferment. The Coteaux du Loir Blanc is, according to Pascal, always more facile, forward and flattering than the Jasnières in its youth - something that was very apparent from the 2008s in tank. Here, he just makes a single wine from 1.3 hectares of Chenin he rents from five different owners.

He controls some 1.7 hectares of red Coteaux du Loir. The Pineau d’Aunis is sourced from vines at the foot of the slopes and he produces two different red wines. The first, ‘Cuvée du Rosier’, is a 100% varietal wine that receives nine days of maceration, with Pascal determining the style of the wine based on the level of acidity and tannin rather than the colour; his objective being to produce an instantly drinkable red. The second is a blend with some 10% of Cabernet Franc from the plateau and around 25% Gamay. This is marketed as ‘Cuvée Henri Quatre’.

The grapes, despite all the different parcels, are harvested by machine, apart from when it is necessary to conduct a triage. The wines are all made in a purpose built shed next to the family house, fermented and raised in fibre glass.

The Wines :
Time spent in the cellar with Pascal gave him the opportunity to lighten up and shake off his serious side. He has a clear and very focused attitude to what he does, and I suppose managing this vast array of parcels and growers, he needs to be. For me, it is always a good sign when a grower says his US importer is Kermit Lynch. We like to think of him as the ‘Richards Walford’ of the States. He also has very little wine to sell, which is another positive sign. I liked Pascal and I like his wines. I can certainly recommend them should you come across them.

2007 Jasnières ‘Cuvée du Silex’
Pale, green/straw appearance. Light and delicate on the nose. Mineral, closed and quite primary. Gentle on entry with noticeable residual sugar (14g/l) on the palate. Light, but nicely balanced and very fresh. Quite high toned and a little unknit at present. There is a persistent thread of acidity running through the wine. Youthful and needs time, but very promising. (12/08)

2007 Coteaux du Loir Blanc
Bright. Pale straw. More open and expressive with a faintly spicy nose. Riper and more forward than above. Good mineral expression and very open already. Well rounded with good texture. Balanced and concentrated on the palate and moves to a second level. Noticeable carbon dioxide on the palate which helps the lift. There is also a hint of residual sweetness (9g/l) but this is well hidden behind the striking acidity. Still quite unknit and would benefit with more time in bottle. Great future potential. (12/08)

2007 Coteaux du Loir Rouge ‘Cuvée des Rosiers’
100% Pineau d’Aunis. Very pale, delicate red appearance, although has surprisingly good graduation for a wine so shallow. Instant and intense on the nose, with a very lifted and pure Pineau d’Aunis nose. This follows through on the palate. Intense, mineral and spicy. Red fruits and bitter cherries with a lovely focus to the striking acidity. This is really excellent for drinking now. (12/08)

Pascal & Dominique Janvier
La Minée
T: + 33 2 43 44 29 65
P: + 33 6 78 84 68 19
F: + 33 2 43 79 25 25

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