Domaine Jaulin-Plaisantin Chinon Les Bourdes 2011
I am just back from a few weeks in Chinon and Sancerre, and it has been a both fun and informative trip. I visited some ‘old friends’, domaines I have known about for years, such as Bernard Baudry and Charles Joguet. Although neither of these is the domaine I first discovered fifteen or twenty years ago, the former now run by Matthieu Baudry, the latter by Anne-Charlotte Genet with the help of Kevin Fontaine. In Sancerre and Menetou-Salon I also made several visits to familiar names, the most enjoyable and entertaining of which was several hours in the company of Alphonse Mellot Senior. I now not only have a completely up-to-date viewpoint on the 2015 and 2014 vintages chez Alphonse Mellot, but Alphonse wasn’t shy about distilling down his many decades of experience and opinion regarding Sancerre and wine in general for me. At 70 years of age Alphonse is still a dynamic whirlwind, and having met him I understand why the domaine enjoys the exalted position it does today.
Then there were less familiar names. In Chinon I visited Jérôme Billard, of Domaine de la Noblaie, whose wines I only discovered a few years ago. Similarly, in Sancerre, I called in on Pierre Martin, who has revolutionised the wines of his family’s domaine. And I spent some time uncovering good places to buy wine and to eat in Chinon and Sancerre, and exploring some less familiar corners of the Loire Valley, such as Richelieu (I am ashamed to admit, after all these years, my first visit to this historic town) and La Charité-sur-Loire (another town rich in history).
One domaine I discovered a couple of weeks ago, on the back roads above Cravant-les-Coteaux, was Domaine Jaulin-Plaisantin. Until that that moment I had been completely unaware of the domaine’s existence. It was created in 2011 when Yves Plaisantin, a young guy from Lyon who studied viticulture and oenology followed by a stage working at Clusel-Roch, went into partnership with Sébastien Jaulin, an older vigneron who until then had been selling all his wine to négociants. Their 15-or-so hectares of vineyards have been converted to organic viticulture, and the fruit is now vinified at the domaine. As it happens I later met Yves Plaisantin at La Cabane à Vin, a wine bar in Chinon in which he and Matthieu Baudry (a friend) have an interest.
Les Bourdes is a vineyard of alluvial terroir, gravel deposited by the waters of the Vienne. Yves and Sébastien have just 0.75 hectares planted here, a small parcel of vines established in 1962. The 2011 Les Bordes from Domaine Jaulin-Plaisantin has a dark and concentrated hue, with a black tulip rim. The nose is filled with tense dark fruits, with scents of black violets and black olive, nuanced with a touch of balsamic and a slightly meaty character. This is followed by a simply lovely palate, cool, with cherry and olive stone and some dark and lightly toasted fruit. It has a slightly leaner texture than the rich nose suggested though, and a lighter concentration which reflects and is thus appropriate for the terroir. And yet it is loaded with flavour, and it shows a touch of length as well. A very good find indeed, and a domaine I shall have to investigate further. 16/20 (25/7/16)