Lise et Bertrand Jousset: Tasting and Drinking
If there is a tenet central to the philosophy chez Jousset I think it would probably relate to the creation of dry cuvées, intended for drinking at table, natural and unwoody wines that express their origins and which sit well with food. As such they focus very much on what works for them, and it is a happy coincide perhaps that I - and I expect this is true of many others - also find their wines so enticing.
As a consequence they concentrate most of all on their dry cuvées, the sweeter moelleux wines playing only a minor part in the Jousset portfolio. And Lise is quite particular about what 'dry' might mean; tasting the 2009 Premier Rendez-vous together, with its 8 g/l residual sugar, Lise clearly indicated the wine was a touch too sweet for her tastes, and that she prefers her sec cuvées to carry about 3 g/l. This is 'properly' dry, not the rather sugar-rich 'sec' cuvées some estates are turning out, where the sugar is usually masked - to some extent, at least, by balancing acidity. A smile marked her face when we moved onto the 2009 Singulier, a wine which probably has about 4 g/l (not yet having been bottled, the final analysis had not been undertaken when I tasted the wine). It is, she said, "good for the mind".
The Jousset philosophy is not merely a matter of balance, however, as the wines should also express their origins; this is achieved by handling the young wines separately in the cellar, according to the lieu-dit of origin, and sensitive blending only when the élevage is done and dusted. But it also involves understanding your terroirs, of course, and Lise and Bertrand have not been averse to a little agricultural detective work in order to do so. Despite their early financial difficulties they have recently been able to hire a digger to excavate test pits to learn more about their terroir, particularly in Clos Renard, where they dug down through a rich green clay, although they also found some limestone towards the centre.
The Joussets also favour wine as expression of terroir and fruit, not wood. Although the fermentations and élevage involve a variety of wooden vessels, ranging from 225 to 600 litres, the use of new wood is kept to a minimum, and in general the wines are not marked by their contact with oak. I found it telling that, with the 2009 Trait d'union, a demi-sec cuvée, it was Lise who drew my attention to the oak in the wine, before I had even had a chance to lift the glass to my nose. She is clearly a little uncomfortable with such overtly expressed oak, this cuvée having seen 30% new wood, which she confessed "maybe a bit much for us".
Tasting with Lise and Bertrand Jousset uncovers a portfolio of enticing, fresh and minerally wines. I was entranced by their great purity, vivacity and the occasional hint of seduction. Lise and Bertrand may only have a few vintages under their belts, but the languid and relaxed character to be found within their wines, coupled with their vibrant balance, belies their inexperience. This not so much a domaine to watch, as the wines are already too good for such a mealy-mouthed accolade; the wines here are delicious, and I urge you to track them down as best you can. (27/9/11, updated 7/11/12)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset: Tasting Notes
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis Trait d'Union 2011: Bottled March 2012. Residual sugar 18 g/l. This has a lovely fresh and open nose, pure and vibrant, lifted and floral, with hints of spring meadow and fragrant wild flowers. A very convincing palate follows, with notes of apples, pears, sweet fruit and concentrated character, with beautiful beeswax and floral elements, yet it remains all bright and crunchy. And it is so youthful! An impressive wine. From an Update on Lise and Bertrand Jousset in May 2012. 17.5/20 (May 2012)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis Bubulle Pét' Nat' 2010: This pétillant naturel cuvée is chalky, fresh and lightly fruited, with a crisp character providing a very attractive frame for the aromatics. The palate is lightly creamy, with white fruit character. This is grippy and sappy, with a minerally finish. The character here remains fresh but rather tight. Overall, good. From an Update on Lise and Bertrand Jousset in May 2012. 15/20 (May 2012)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset P'tit sans Gene (Vin de Table) 2010: The assemblage here is 60% Gamay and 40% Grolleau, harvested and fermented separately. The Grolleau accounts for just 0.2 hectares of the domaine, the Gamay 1 hectare. A wine from dedicated fruit, rather than a saignée. Fermented in 400-litre barriques. This has less than 5 g/l at the moment of tasting. Quite a firm pink colour but not too deep. Still in barrel, and still very fermenty on the nose. Poured very cold which doesn't really help the analysis. Certainly fresh though, seemingly dry on the palate, rather savoury. There is some sweetly perfumed primary fruit too though, red fruits of course, all raspberry and cherry. A bright, vibrant acid backbone. Clean, and overall this is an attractive wine. 15-16/20 (January 2010)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis Premier Rendez-Vous 2010: This cuvée is from various terroirs, all vinified separately, and blended later. There is a very savoury character on the nose here. The palate is reserved, savoury, quite full and with a very solid feel to the backbone. There are some appealing floral elements, with hints of orange zest, and good structure to it. Overall this is quite solid and impressive, with a grippy finish. It is poured at a slightly warm temperature, and may show greater focus and a higher score if served a little cooler. From an Update on Lise and Bertrand Jousset in May 2012. 16.5/20 (May 2012)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis Premier Rendez-vous 2010: An assemblage from several lieux-dits, all picked and vinified separately. The nose is restrained, with pale and stony white fruit. One the palate it has a more seductive depth than I expected, showing a very fresh character but still with good and expressive fruit, all yellow-gold, with a lovely core of acid. It is bright and fresh, with a sherbetty and youthful minerality. This is beautifully relaxed at the start, and yet tightens up to show a wonderful tension later. Although this has 15-20 g/l residual at present, the fermentation is still ongoing, and it will eventually be dry. Judgements at this stage must be taken with a pinch of salt. It shows great promise, though. 17-18/20 (January 2010)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Les Audouines (VdP de Val de Loire) 2010: Les Audouines is the name of the lieu-dit, 1 hectare planted purely with Chardonnay despite being within the Montlouis appellation. The terroir is argilo-calcaire with silex on top. The only cuvée not fermented in wood, this is a sample from cuve. It still has 40 g/l residual sugar at this moment in time, as this has been a particularly slow fermentation. A sweet and grapey style of fruit - perhaps unsurprisingly so. Very primary. There is a lovely bright structure behind it all though, showing tension and acidity, although it has a very full texture no doubt influenced by this sugar still to be fermented out. Fresh and clean, with great acids and sweet fruit. This could be fine, but again judgements at this stage must be taken with a pinch of salt. 15-16/20 (January 2010)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis Bubulle Pét' Nat' 2009: A fresh, lively and minerally nose here. A vibrant character, with sweet golden fruit behind it, and on the palate a very low level of pétillance here, because it is "a rich wine and the yeast get tired" says Lise Jousset. Nevertheless, there is a very appealing laser-like core of acidity running through the middle of the wine which gives an incredible direction to it. Slightly sherbetty in character, with a very chalky, floral-edged flavour profile which fits the structure of the wine. Attractive, especially that minerally bite at the edges. Don't look for many bubbles here though. 16/20 (January 2010)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Premier Rendez-vous 2009: Fermented in 400-litre barrels, 10% new. A blend of several lieux-dits, this was bottled in August 2010. Residual sugar 8 g/l. Fresh and lively, this vintage seems to have kept the vigour that the 2010 (barrel sample just tasted) promised, a good sign I think. Light fruit here, but such vigour! There is also a strong and sherbetty suggestion. On the palate there is more richness though, but the acidity is fine, subtle, needle-like, but with that sherbetty edge to it. I really like this; it is supple, with light, softly crushed minerals and gentle acids. There is a lovely tension to it. For me the balance and generosity seem to work together very well indeed. 17/20 (January 2010)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis Singulier 2009: Not yet bottled; this remained in barrel until December 2010 (15-20% new, half 400-litre and half 600-litre, although the aim is to move to entirely 600-litre barrels), and is currently undergoing final assemblage in tank. To be bottled March 2011. Whereas the Premier Rendez-vous is a blend, this is from a single site, Clos aux Renards. Here there is clay, with a little limestone at the centre. A more supple and refined nose here, polished and elegant, with a lovely purity on the palate. There is broad and bright fruit, a fine boned structure, a little more firm than the Premier Rendez-vous. Lovely midpalate, bursting with acid and mineral life. Beautiful, seductively fleshy but with such lift beneath it. Minerally too. Lise is hoping for an eventual residual sugar of about 4 g/l. 17.5-18.5/20 (January 2010)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis Trait d'union 2009: An assemblage of wines giving a demi-sec cuvée with about 30g/l. I am forewarned that this cuvée "can taste a little woody", as the fermentation vessels included nearly 30% new wood, which is "maybe a bit much for us" says Lise. There is a little more honey here on the nose, coming from the wood of course. So fresh on the palate though, showing the substance of the residual sugar, but with seams of minerals and tension underneath. Around the wood it is floral, expressive, defined and very bright. Overall, a lovely style, so crisp and fresh at the core, with ripe and yet crunchy fruit wrapped around. There is a little grip in the finish from the oak. With time the minerals and acidity will come to dominate the wood here; I suggest leaving three years, perhaps. 17.5/20 (January 2010)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis En aparté 2009: This moelleux cuvée is destined for release at the end of 2011 or early 2012. Residual sugar 140 g/l. In this vintage the sweetness comes from passerillage rather than botrytis, and the source is Clos aux Renards, the same lieu-dit that gives rise to the Singulier cuvée. Aromatically it is pure, cleanly defined, with honeyed fruit. It certainly suggests sweetness, and a little beeswax too. An appealing style, lightly honeyed and bright, but underneath there is the trademark acidity and mineral streak that seems to run through all the Jousset wines. Expressive, really broadening out on the palate, showing very fine minerals, a feature which comes to dominate despite that firm sweetness, which comes in from behind in the finish. Very attractive, and very long. Lovely 17.5/20 (January 2010)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Y a rien qui presse (Vin de Table) 2008: I think this may be labelled as non-vintage, but it is certainly from 2008. A blend of 70% Gamay and 30% Cabernet Franc. Made with carbonic maceration of both varieties together; this means maximum maturity for the Gamay, as the Cabernet Franc ripens later. Rather a gamey nose, but there is freshness and lift, with plenty of acid, on the palate. It is quite vibrant in its structure. Soft and supple gamey fruit behind, but overall the impression is lean and bright with rather a soft, perfumed, slightly dried, red-fruit character, rather reminiscent of freeze-dried fruit. Cool, with a little tannin, more so in the finish. A charcuterie wine. 14.5/20 (January 2010)
Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis Singulier 2007: From older vines on clay and limestone soils, this cuvée has a very attractive and supple style. It feels floral and fresh on the nose. As for the palate, in the middle it has a very soft, floral, lightly minerally element to it, leading to a lovely fresh rounding-off in the finish, where it shows bright flavour and good grip. This wine has a very supple and attractive feel to it, and a lovely grip to it. Very attractive. From an Update on Lise and Bertrand Jousset in May 2012. 17/20 (May 2012)