A very lazy family holiday in the Loire Valley was interrupted for a visit to Domaine de la Taille aux Loups in Montlouis, home to the brilliant Jacky Blot. We had allowed an hour and a half to 2 hours for the visit; a schoolboy error. We made our excuses after three hours (a longish drive and a dinner reservation beckoned) without having done justice to Jacky’s reds from Domaine de la Butte in Bourgueil or even having tried a single sweet wine…
However, we were really there for Jacky’s dry whites and these we tasted, discussed and delighted in at our leisure. He is truly the master of Chenin Blanc, taking this potentially exceptional and uniquely ethereal grape variety to the very top rungs of the quality ladder. I have known and loved his wines for many years and really urge even the most committed lovers of White Burgundy to try these wines.
We started with a few pre-release 2013s. This was a tricky vintage in the Loire but Jacky has the luxury of declassifying grapes from his parcels into either his blends or his sparkling wine thereby ensuring that the quality at each price point is maintained. The only downside of course is that there is then far less of the “cuvées parcellaires” such as Clos Michet and Clos Mosny and less of the flagship blends Rémus and Rémus Plus.
Jacky is a great respecter of the environment but has not joined the Biodynamic movement so beloved of certain of his Loire Valley compatriots. He considers that all wines are undoubtedly marked by the elements; earth from the soil and then fire, water and air in varying degrees depending on the vintage. He vinifies each wine identically so that the unique character of each vineyard can be seen.
He analyses wines as comprising horizontal and vertical characteristics. The vertical gives a wine its focus and direction, freshness and purity. The horizontal gives roundness, flesh and texture. Any wine of quality will have a balance of the two elements and it is ultimately a question of taste where you feel the perfect balance lies.
Jacky’s wines tend towards the vertical (and his ruthless selection process ensures the wines are never unbalanced) but the influence of the changeable elements (water, fire and air) in each vintage does affect the overall balance. He opened bottles of Rémus 2004, 2005 and 2008 to illustrate his point.
A water vintage (i.e. relatively cool and wet) such as 2004 has wines with the vertical element more pronounced and are relatively light bodied.
A fire vintage (i.e. predominantly sunny) such as 2005 gives richer wines with a more noticeable horizontal element, fuller in the mouth but with a little less drive.
An air vintage (ideal balanced weather conditions which result in flavours intensifying through a light dehydration of the grapes) tends to the vertical but with a lovely rounded body as well. No prizes for guessing that this is what Jacky strives for and, while all three wines were very good, the precision of the 2008 was particularly impressive.
Later in the week we had a bottle of his Vouvray Clos de la Bretonniere 2012 – Jacky would consider it infanticide (there is no doubt that the wines can age for many many years, we tasted a bottle of his entry level Montlouis Dix Arpents 2002 and were stunned by its freshness) but it was already exceptional. Fresh, poised, layered and complex this is everything you could hope for in a white wine at this price point.
We currently have stock of two of Jacky’s wines. Montlouis Sec Rémus Domaine de la Taille aux Loups 2012 (£105 per 6 bottles) and Montlouis Sec Clos Mosny Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Jacky Blot 2012 (£140 per 6 bottles). Call us on 020 7793 7900 to order a case or two.