Jean-Marc Biet, 2020 Update
The wines of the Cher Valley are little-known outside Loire anorak circles. Although some domaines here have enjoyed cult status and an ardent following – the most obvious example being the now defunct Clos Roche Blanche – this adoration has largely originated from a relatively small cohort of ardent fans. This is a shame, as some of the wines made here are of real interest. The soils are favourable, with desirable slopes of limestone and clay not far from the river which are undeniably well-suited to the vine. And variety also makes this region interesting, and in particular one red variety.
The cultivars planted here are those generally regarded as traditional for the Loire Valley, principally Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc with a bit of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but the variety that deserves special attention is Côt, otherwise known as Malbec. Again I get the feeling only committed Loire anoraks appreciate the long association between Côt and these eastern Touraine vineyards, it coming as a surprise to those who think it grows only in Cahors and Argentina. As an aside, I see the same thing with Cabernet Sauvignon in Anjou; even long-in-the-tooth wine professionals are surprised to learn that Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in the region, the dry near-Mediterranean microclimate along the Layon still seemingly a well-kept secret.
One of numerous domaines situated along the banks of the Cher, I have checked in on the wines of Jean-Marc Biet and his daughter Julie (pictured above) for a few years now. The wines are full of freshness and fruit, with a touch more substance and depth at the top of the range. Here I report on some wines tasted in early 2020; a number of wines from the 2019 vintage are included in my Loire 2019 First Taste reports, so here I look just at older vintages.