Mai et Kenji Hodgson
The patchwork of vineyards that shadow the Layon, as it snakes towards the Loire, hides many gems. Some vineyards and domaine are very well known; some of the Loire Valley’s most famous vignerons inhabit this stretch of vineyard, familiar names such as Claude Papin and Jo Pithon. And yet, perhaps because of its very broad and multifaceted nature, the Anjou appellation has never gained a great reputation, and so the vineyards here remain both available and affordable, even to a young start-up. Hence alongside the more renowned domaines we also have some that are making their mark on the world of wine with their very first vintages, from vines recently rented or purchased. Names such as Toby Bainbridge, Les Roches Sèches, Thibaud Boudignon (now based across the Loire in Savennières, admittedly, but he started off in Chaudefonds-sur-Layon) and Les Vignes Herbel spring to mind. Indeed, even Mark Angeli fits the mould; he may now have a position as Loire wine royalty, but even Mark was once a newcomer; the acquisition of his vines in 1990 had been preceded by studies in chemistry, and work as a stonemason.
Today, Mark Angeli serves as in inspiration to many, both through his transition from one career to the next, but also through his dedicated viticultural philosophies and the quality of his wines. I sense one young couple who may view Mark in this manner are the subject of this profile, Mai and Kenji Hodgson.