****Supplies limited. Minimum purchase of 6 bottles mix and match with other Direct wines from Gigou & must be ordered in multiples of 6. Ships directly from winery to you in about 2 weeks at rate of $8/btl on 6, $6/btl on at least 12. Must be ordered separately from wines not on Direct. Available only to VDLT members.****
Our Tasting ImpressionsOnce I got my head around the fact that this usually sweet cuvée is - in 1988 - dry, I was able to appreciate what a pure expression of Chenin this 30+ year old is. Perhaps more subtle in its charms than the other library offerings here, it is no less impressive. Give this the attention it needs and deserves. Drinking great now but I suspect if you cellared some, your grandchildren will be able to enjoy them.
About this wine
A VDLT exclusive from Joël’s private cellar
Chenin Blanc from Gigou's most prized vineyard - Saint Jacques - planted around 1946. The soil is silex (flint & sand) limestone clay and tuffeau - porous, chalky limestone composed of bryozoan fossils (tiny aquatic invertebrates).
In years where there is botrytis (noble rot), the first harvest of handpicked grapes with very low yields of 15 hl/ha are sorted for Sélection de Raisins Nobles. In 1988, there was 90% botrytis - the same as in 1990 but this wine is entirely dry. The sugar level is only 10 grams per liter (one-tenth of the 1990). Acidity is at 5.8 grams per liter.
Fermentation was in Chestnut barrels at low temperatures for 7-8 months using indigenous yeasts. The wine stayed on fine lees for 7-8 months with bâtonnage in the same Chestnut barrels. Racking was done to stabilize.
About the grape
Chenin Blanc is one of the world's great wine grapes. Possibly dating back a millenium, Chenin is notable for its intense acidity. In fact, before the pronounced effects of climate change, cold years in the Loire produced underripe grapes and disastrous vintages. Often vintners had to add sulphur to counteract the savage acidity. Today, that does not happen much and Chenin can fully display its vivacious and glorious floral, hay and honey notes. Chenin is among the most flexible varieties for wine production. It can be vinified dry, off-dry or sweet. It also is capable of producing wines that can live and improve - seemingly - forever.
The Gigou family operates their quaint 13 hectares farm in the central northern reaches of the Loire Valley - not far Le Mans, home to the famed 24-hour auto road race. Joël started the estate in 1974 along with his gracious wife Sylvie. His son Ludovic now handles much of the management and his sister Dorothée has recently joined in the efforts.
Their vineyards lie in Jasnières (8ha) and Côteaux du Loir (5ha), two fairly obscure appellations that might have faded into oblivion if not for the fine wines and tireless promotion from this family.
The vineyards in Jasnières are planted to Chenin Blanc to produce all but one of their whites, including a sweet Chenin in vintages when botrytis (noble rot) occurs.
Gamay and Pineau d'Aunis (and the Chenin for one white) is planted in Côteaux du Loir to produce their reds and rosé. They also produce sparkling wines in all three colors that are not appellation specific. The range of wines is extensive despite producing only about 40-50,000 bottles per year. There are lots of old vines.
They farm without chemicals. They harvest 60% by hand and 40% by machine (for the white grapes with stems left intact).
Now the remarkable part, Ludovic told me they keep all their bottled wines in their cellar for at least one or two years. I asked why they do this (wondering how a small estate can defer the revenue). He replied, The wine decides when it's ready. In some cases, he would hold them back even longer, except they are often out of storage space. Truly a portrait of a family whose prime concern is that the wines that bear their name are special.
VDLT is the only North American source for current vintages of Gigou’s wines.