If you ever have an appointment at Charles Joguet, be certain to check exactly where you are set to meet. It could be the original cellars, located on the left bank of the Vienne, which are located usefully alongside the famed Clos de la Dioterie. After all, what more iconic meeting point could you have? Or it could be the house directly below it which the Genet family, proprietors of the domaine, purchased only a year or two ago. Since its acquisition this house has seen a gradual conversion into a tasting room and wine shop, although if you visit it is the view from the conservatory at the rear, looking up the slope of the aforementioned clos, that you simply must check out.
Alternatively, you might be expected to turn up at Cave des Silènes, the Charles Joguet wine bar and shop which sits at the top of the town of Chinon, a stone’s throw from the rear of the royal fortress. Even if you don’t have an appointment here, it is still worth popping in for a bite to eat and a glass of the latest vintage of Cuvée de la Cure or even its namesake wine, Silènes. Or, if you are extremely privileged, you may be invited to taste in the ‘other’ cellars, located deep in the wilderness south of the Vienne. This is unlikely though, as the existence of these cellars is a closely guarded secret. I visited once, but only after I had first been hooded and bundled into the boot of winemaker Kevin Fontaine’s car, mobster-style, the measures taken so that I would never be able to reveal the location of the entrance.
On this occasion, however, there was no uncertainty. In the absence of Anne-Charlotte Genet I was to meet Fanny, who normally looks after the tasting room, on the corner in Sazilly. Now you might ask which corner, but there are only two of note in this little hamlet, one either side of its restaurant, the Auberge du Val de Vienne. Well, that’s not strictly true, but then neither was my line about being bundled into the boot of a car, and I didn’t hear you making any complaint about that.
So there I was, at 8am on the morning of Thursday October 1st, loitering on a street corner in Sazilly. Half-expecting a long, cold and miserable wait, I was delighted when Fanny suddenly appeared, as if from nowhere, seemingly channelling Mr Benn’s shopkeeper friend (if that mystifies you, it is a British children’s television reference). Our introductions done from behind our respective anti-Covid face coverings, we walked down from the main road to the vines which are the source of the Cuvée de la Cure (previously Clos de la Cure). The vines are only 60 metres from the main road, making this a very brief amble. Even so, it lasted long enough for a particularly ominous cloud drifting overhead to come to the decision that now would be a good time for it to release its cargo. I felt the pitter-patter beginnings of a shower of rain, the raindrops increasing in size and intensity just as we reached the vines.
It was at this point I began to regret leaving my umbrella at home. Not to mention my jacket. And, for that matter, my hat. The pickers (pictured above), however, obviously wise to the ways of the harvest (or maybe they just checked the météo before setting out), had made no such mistake.