Charles Joguet, 2015 Update

For several decades Charles Joguet was one of the most famous names in Chinon, but there have in fact been many figures involved in the story of this domaine. While I think many in the wine trade, and perhaps also one or two fans of the domaine, still hold in their heads an image of Charles Joguet himself hunched over the fermenting must of the most recent vintage, this is no longer how we should think of the domaine. Charles has long moved on, and today the domaine is run in a very expert fashion by Anne-Charlotte Genet and winemaker Kevin Fontaine. Having met Anne-Charlotte and Kevin several times it is clear they are knowledgeable, committed and passionate, and they channel these talents into the search for improved quality. On this most recent occasion, I had an opportunity to see how they had fared during what I regard as the two most difficult vintages to hit the Loire Valley’s red appellations in recent years, the challenging 2012 vintage, and the devil that was 2013.

The 2013 Vintage

As I have alluded in my introduction, this was a terribly trying vintage, very wet, with a late harvest, the winemakers bringing in fragile fruit which was prone to rot. At some domaines in the Loire’s many red wine appellations, vignerons have culled superior cuvées, choosing instead to declassify fruit from better terroirs into the domaine cuvée, and selecting out and rejecting lower quality fruit. This is but one approach to a difficult vintage though. An alternative is to embrace the vintage, to make the usual portfolio of wines, accepting that this tack will lay bare the character of the vintage. At this domaine, Anne-Charlotte and Kevin (pictured below) decided to do just that, to embrace the vintage, and to turn out an almost complete range, working with what the vintage gave them, with no chaptalisation at any level. The only cuvée missing from the identity parade in 2013 is the Cuvée de la Cure, as the frost damage was too extensive to even consider making a wine.

Charles Joguet

Whereas the 2012s tasted here were all finished wines, now in bottle, all the 2013s tasted were barrel samples. The style is characterised by a leafy freshness at the bottom end, with vibrant acidities and leanness of texture apparent throughout. “We aren’t looking for body in this vintage”, says Kevin Fontaine. The textures lean towards the more grainy, as do the tannins, reflecting the weakness of the vintage. To their credit, however, the wines are fresh, the lightness feels appropriate; they are honest wines, true to the portfolio of vineyards and true to the vintage. At the top end especially, with the Clos de la Dioterie and Clos du Chêne Vert, it will be fascinating to revisit these wines in five years to see how they are looking against the same cuvée in different vintages. As for the lower levels, I think these are wines that will be drinking best in the years immediately after bottling.

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