N.B. This wine is available only with the label pictured below - different from the label the producer typically uses. This label, created by VDLT, pictures Ludo (the winemaker) with his donkey, Nougat. The caption reflects a "disagreement" they have about who will be responsible for grass removal.
Our Tasting Impressions
Really lovely sparkling Chenin. It's loaded with minerals and has just the right amount of funk. It has a gentle but pronounced mousse (that's the main reason Gigou delays the release). It's joyous and easy but not simple. We could drink this all day/every day for the next 30 years (which might be a conservative estimate for how long it can be cellared).
About this wine
A sparkling Chenin Blanc. The organically grown grapes are harvested by hand from clay and limestone soil. The yield was 25hl/ha. The fermentation was 4 months in old chestnut barrels. The wine then aged in the same barrels for 2-3 months before disgorgement. The effervescence is achieved through a second fermentation in the bottle known as Méthode Traditionelle.
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.
About the Vintage
The 2017 crop was severely reduced by frost. The low yields increased concentration for conscientious growers.
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.