Our Tasting Impressions
Mature, sweet Chenin Blanc has a way of coming at your senses in waves and on varying dimensions. At times, it appears there is more going on than you can actually perceive. This "youngster" (relative to the others in the Collection) is floral, bright and lively. It's not dessert sweet (40g/rs) - cheese would be a better pairing. Along with the terrific 1997 (available in-stock), Gigou produced a prodigious back-to-back pair.
About this wine
A VDLT exclusive from Joël’s private cellar.
Yet another wine stemming from the Chenin Blanc in Gigou's prized organically farmed vineyard - Saint Jacques - planted more than 70 years ago. 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 ridiculously low yields of 10 hl/ha are sorted for Sélection de Raisins Nobles.
Fermentation is in oak barrels for 6-8 months using indigenous yeasts. The wine ages in the barrels on fine lees for 4 months. It has 40 grams of residual sugar.
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.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Mineralité
The Gigou family operates their quaint farm in the central northern reaches of the Loire Valley - not far from Le Mans, home to the famed 24-hour auto road race. Joël, who is credited with saving the appellation of Jasnières, 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 8 hectares of vineyards in Jasnières are planted to Chenin Blanc producing dry whites - and sweet in vintages when botrytis (noble rot) occurs. The entire appellation is only 108 hectares and the soil of mostly flint and tuffeau limestone is unique - giving Chenin from Jasnières distinct flavors. They farm without chemicals harvestIng 60% by hand and 40% by machine (stems left on for the Chenin).
Gamay and Pineau d'Aunis (and Chenin for one white) is planted in Côteaux du Loir (5ha) for 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.
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 active North American source for Gigou’s wines.