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Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis-sur-Loire Premier Rendez-vous 2012

Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis-sur-Loire Premier Rendez-vous 2012

My weekend wine a few weeks ago (before my recent trip to check out the harvest in the Loire Valley) was the 2014 Bouchet from François Chidaine, and it prompted me to pull this bottle from the cellar this week. Having extolled the virtue’s of both François Chidaine and Jacky Blot for their roles in the revitalisation of the Montlouis-sur-Loire appellation, I figured the least I could do is turn the spotlight on one of the number of young vignerons who followed their lead. Neither Lise Girard nor Bertrand Jousset were born to a family of vignerons; the former is an agriculteur’s daughter born down in Deux-Sèvres, a region more associated with arable farming than viticulture, while the latter is an ex-soldier who, in seeking a new direction in life, decided to study viticulture and oenology at Amboise. Having hooked with one another up they decided, inspired by the work of a number of local vignerons including François and Jacky (and quite a few others), to establish a vineyard.

The other reason I decided to pull this wine for the cellar is less romantic and rather more practical. Premier Rendez-vous is very much an entry-level cuvée, its purpose in life to provide an early look at the vintage while grander single-vineyard sec, demi-sec and moelleux cuvées slumber in the cellar. Hence the cuvée’s name, which of course translates into English as first meeting. Despite this, when the 2009 was pitted against some rather more illustrious cuvées in a recent ten-year-on tasting of the Loire 2009 vintage, I thought the wine acquitted itself rather well. Nevertheless the 2009 Singulier, a sec cuvée from a single vineyard, and the demi-sec 2009 Trait d’union, were much more impressive, and I felt with previous vintages of Premier Rendez-vous (in particular 2008 and 2007) that asking ten years of it was perhaps a bit much. With this in mind I decided I should probably pull the cork on the next vintage in my cellar a little earlier than previously anticipated. That led me to 2012 (I must have missed out on 2010 and 2011), not an easy vintage in this corner of the Loire Valley.

Lise et Bertrand Jousset Montlouis-sur-Loire Premier Rendez-vous 2012

First, a little more on this cuvée from Lise et Bertrand Jousset. The assemblage of Premier Rendez-vous takes fruit from several parcels, although the vines have a fairly good age despite this, ranging from 40- to 70-years old. What unifies the various parcels, and results in the fruit going into an entry-level cuvée rather than something more serious, are the soils, which are a lesser mix of sand and flint, over a deeply buried limestone. After a single picking, bringing in a harvest with an intended yield of around 30 hl/ha (although in Montlouis-sur-Loire in a number of recent vintages frost has had a very negative effect on yield), it is fermented and aged in old 400-litre wooden barrels, but with a small volume – perhaps 10% – of new oak included in the mix. It has often ended up with a lick of residual sugar, just at the top end of the sec category being the norm, moving into sec-tendre.

The 2012 Montlouis-sur-Loire Premier Rendez-vous from Lise et Bertrand Jousset kicks off with a richly golden appearance in the glass, one which makes me glad I did not leave this in the cellar any longer. Indeed, the nose does seem to speak of an evolved largesse, the profile rich and broad, with nuances of caramel and ginger cake at first, although it does tighten up with a little time in the glass. Be patient with it and it seems to focus down into a tighter seam of yellow plum and matchstick, with a polished but undeniably fresh style. The palate follows the lead of the nose, in the end at least, with an initially broad and weighty substance cut with seams of mineral and matchstick as suggested by the aromatic profile. It flourishes as the aromas did, revealing flavours of grilled yellow plum, quartz and a mineral freshness, but it never loses that breadth and sinewy tension. It remains long, punchy and energetic, and considering it’s entry-level status, and the somewhat concerning hue, this has turned out rather well. Drink now, or soon, is my advice though. 92/100 (15/10/19)

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