Jourdan & Pichard Chinon Les 3 Quartiers 2010
Wine is eternally humbling; the further I venture out on Homer’s wine dark sea, the more choppy and uncertain the waters become. Despite an obsession with the wines of the Loire Valley that I can trace back to a visit to the region just shy of three decades ago, there are still vignerons I have never met, domaines I simply do not know, and even one or two appellations I have never visited. Personally I have lost count of how many appellations there are here (it is often said there are more than seventy, and if you include new crus such as those in Muscadet the number quickly climbs) and in my defence some of them are quite isolated. Nevertheless, I have plans to at least partially right this wrong with some visits in 2022.
Even in famous appellations, such as Chinon, which is right on my doorstep, there is still uncovered ground. One domaine I have never even mentioned before on these pages, despite its long history in the region, is Jourdan & Pichard. The story of this domaine begins with Philippe Pichard, a fifth-generation vigneron who in 1983 inherited a small parcel of vines from his grandparents who farmed it under the name of Domaine de la Chapelle. The cellars were located in Le Puy, a tiny hamlet on the banks of the Vienne, well out on the valley floor below Cravant-les-Coteaux; the soils reflected this location, being in part alluvial gravel, part clay and flint. Nearly thirty years later, with no heir apparent, newcomers Annick and Francis Jourdan bought into the domaine; and since then the trio have tended their vines under the combined name of Jourdan & Pichard.
Under direction of Philippe Pichard the domaine evolved greatly. Taking his grandparents’ vines – little more than a few rows – he expanded the vineyard, up to 17 hectares, the majority of which was on the valley floor close to the cellars, but there are also a couple of parcels up on the plateau. Philippe converted first to organic viticulture and then biodynamics, being certified for the latter by Demeter in 2010. He also began hand-harvesting in 2009. He makes a small portfolio of reds all from Cabernet Franc of course, as well as a rosé, and of note he also has a few rows of Chenin Blanc planted in La Croix Boissée. Since the arrival of Annick and Francis Jourdan the most significant development has been investment in new cellars; these sit just outside Le Puy, on the main road almost equidistant between Chinon and L’Île Bouchard, the two main crossing points over the Vienne in this region.
The cuvée Les 3 Quartiers from Jourdan & Pichard is sourced from several parcels of old vines aged more than 50 years, as the Vieilles Vignes designation suggests, and it comes from flint and clay soils. For its age the 2010 has a good density of colour, nicely polished with an early fade building at the rim. The nose is attractively old-school, aromatically intriguing, subtly perfumed with violets, green peppercorn, black raspberry and liquorice, with a touch of soy to it. There follows a charming palate, grained but finely so, rather modestly textured, with a rich backdrop of tightly knit tannins set in a silky texture, while the finish is an intertwining of toasted tannins and dark yet evolving fruit, with a taut, acid-framed structure. A classically styled wine which is still showing potential for the cellar, even at more than ten years of age, although it will always be in that old-school vein. A style that Homer might once have enjoyed, perhaps? The declared alcohol is 13%. 91/100 (13/12/21)
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