Domaine de Juchepie, 2014 Update

If you could choose to swap lives with a vigneron for a day (or perhaps even longer), who would you choose to be? Outside of the Loire, I could see many choosing the top names of Bordeaux, Burgundy or Champagne. Who would choose to be Baptiste Guinaudeau, heir to the 4 hectares that we call Château Lafleur? Alternatively, who would rather trade places with someone working a few plots on the Côte d’Or, a Grivot perhaps, or a Gouges, or a Ligier-Belair? There are plenty of names and domaines to choose from.

I expect you know full well I would choose somebody in the Loire, although my choice would perhaps surprise you. After all, I could be Nicolas Joly for the day, or Richard Leroy, Mark Angeli or indeed any of the Loire Valley’s leading lights. But no. The unfortunate person who would have to trade lives with me for a day would be Eddy Oosterlinck, and there are many reasons for my choice. First, his domaine is located in the bucolic landscape of Anjou, and nobody who was stayed in this region – waking up each morning to look out upon the soft, green rolling hills and the gentle mists that caress the vines along the course of the Layon can fail to be entranced by its beauty. Second, Eddy knows how to live; he has a love of music, theatre and art that matches his understanding of his vineyard, and I would like to tap into that for a day. Thirdly, he knows how to eat; I happen to know there is no shortage of foie gras, and other delights, chez Oosterlinck.

Domaine de Juchepie

And, of course, there are the wines.

Whereas Leroy, Angeli and others take a lot of the Anjou Blanc (or Vin de France) limelight, Eddy (pictured above) is best known for his magnificent sweet wines. But his dry whites are, if you are wise, not to be overlooked; taste them and you can sense the ripeness and the concentration within the fruit. These are wines, like those of Patrick Baudouin, which do not enjoy the same reputation as the Anjou greats but which are extremely close in terms of quality. So there would be no shortage of wine to drink with dinner here, and if I wanted red I happen to know Eddy grows a little Cabernet Franc in the corner of his vineyard, even if he does not commercialise it. Even this decision tells me something important about Eddy; he understands the vital relationship between the Layon, schist and Chenin Blanc, and it is a relationship with, to be honest, no room for Cabernet Franc. His is a Chenin terroir.

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