Charles Joguet, 2012 Update

Travel back in time twenty years and ask around regarding the leading domaine in Chinon and there is a fair chance that many of the respondents would have answered with the name of Charles Joguet. Charles was the epitome of the artisan-vigneron, half winemaker, half artist and sculptor. But the wines were not popular simply through association with this iconic personality, they were regarded as thrilling in their own right by many who tasted them. There are more than one or two in the wine trade who regard the wines of Charles Joguet – particularly from the late 1980s – as their greatest tasting experience when it comes to the red wines of the Loire.

Having said that, looking back at my own early experiences of the wines of Charles Joguet, I found the wines somewhat underwhelming. This has largely been attributed to a change in ownership of the domaine; despite his name being a permanent feature, Joguet had sold up, leaving the domaine in the hands of others. And quality had faltered as a result. It was a tragedy of branding and misunderstanding on my part; it was only when I read up on the history of the domaine that I learned why my palate had been so disappointed. In more recent years, however, the domaine saw a revitalisation with the arrival of François-Xavier Barc (known by his friends as F-X, I believe). Tasting the 2003 vintage in London, probably some time in 2005 if I recall correctly, I was hugely impressed by the quality of the wines, which had taken a great leap upwards. Sufficiently confident that this was a new beginning for the domaine, I began to buy the wines again, and as a consequence have some stock of both the 2003 and 2005 vintages. And so you can imagine my disappointment when I learnt, a few years ago, that Barc had left to establish his own domaine.

Charles Joguet

Happily, however, quality did not spiral downhill as it must have done once before. The domaine was left in the hands of Anne-Charlotte Genet (pictured above), a daughter of one of Joguet’s early associates who had taken over the running of the domaine when Joguet retired. The talented Kevin Fontaine is charged with looking after the vines and the winemaking. The Genet-Fontaine combination seems to be one that is working here, as this most recent tasting showed, the wines remaining interesting and of good quality. And there are new developments afoot as well, including new vines to be planted, and a newly acquired vineyard and associated cuvée. This is a domaine still worthy of our attention I think.

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