“A Really Good Tasting” – Janvier Jasnieres Vertical

At least that was the determination of the thirteen Wine Swines that descended on Wine Crest for the monthly tasting. Gord, who is a fan of Loire Chenin Blanc, had over the years assembled a vertical of Pascal Janvier chenins from the Jasnieres region. Now was the time to see how they fared.

For those not familiar with Loire chenins, they are known to age beautifully. The wines (usually) start out crisp and lemony when young, but with age will flesh out with beeswax aromas and quince, melon and honey flavors. Chenins from the Loire typically come regions in Anjou, Saumur and Touraine as shown on the map below (of course those regions also producer other varietals). Vouvray and Savennieres are famous regions. Jasnieres is not as well known, although Janvier is doing its best to make it known. Jasnieres is a small appellation in the department of the Sarthe in the Val du Loir. The Loir is a tributary of the Loire River, and its viticultural area is the most northerly (and coldest) of the greater Loire region. The once proud appellations of Jasnières and the Coteaux du Loir (the preferred wines of King Henri IV) are now all but extinct, with still less than one hundred and two hundred hectares still respectively under vine.

Wine Regions of the Loire Valley

A bit about Janvier from the Kermit Lynch website (KL is the main importer of Janvier):  “The Janviers rent sixty-six different parcels (a total of nine hectares) of land and farm it entirely themselves. Jasnières produces some of the best dry Chenin Blanc (Pineau de la Loire) in the world, and its wines are said to reach their peak ten years after the vintage. The soils of their parcels are comprised of clay, limestone, sand and silex (flint), and are planted primarily to Chenin Blanc. Their “Cuvée du Silex” parcel has distinct flint in the soil, lending notes of gunpowder to this beautiful, crisp Chenin. There is no doubt that Pascal and Dominique have chosen the path less traveled, though at the first sip of their wine, one understands why they keep working so hard. Their stunning aromatics and complexity prove them to be a great value”.

The tasting was set up as follows: 6 wines ranging from 2006 to 2011. As noted in the Kermit Lynch note, Janvier makes 2 chenins – the regular Jasnieres, and the Cuvee du Silex. Of the 6 wines, 2 were Cuvee du Silex, and 4 were regular Jasnieres. All wines were served blind, and the only information given was that it was a vertical of …………… the same wine as the bonus wine. What bonus wine, you ask. Well, that was:

Bonus Wine

2014 Janvier Regular Jasnieres $20 – this is the latest release of this wine. The idea was to give all tasters and idea of what this wine was like young, to gain an appreciation of the impact of aging (although none of the tasters knew what the wine was).

Bonus Wine – 2014 Jasnieres

Gord says “this wine has bright, medium level acidity. Tight nose, slightly yeasty with light white fruit. Intense steely palate, surprisingly fleshy white fruit for being so young. 15 points, good, close to very good.”

Steph’s comments: on the nose I get a hint of petroleum, apple, and mythical stone fruit as the nose is a little closed. The body is fairly light, but it has a generous amount of acid and is refreshing. Good.

With that setup, on to the main attraction!

Wine 1

Gord says “medium gold color. Nose has a slightly waxy note. Slightly more than low/medium acid, rich mouthfeel on attack, with ripe apple and lemon fruit. Mineral bite on finish. 15 points.” This looked and smelled old, but it has surprising acidity. I guessed it was the 2009.

Steph noted that the nose had a slight petrol aroma, was slightly floral and had a mineral quality. There was plenty of acid in this light-bodied wine which tastes of apple, mineral, pineapple with a lemon with zest finish. Light in body and flavor. I guessed this wine was 2011. OK.

Turns out that it was the 2006 Cuvee du Silex, the oldest wine. Guess Gord should have gone with appearance and aroma for guessing, and not acidity level! Meanwhile, Steph could not have been farther off. Ouch!

Wine 1 – 2006 Cuvee du Silex

Wine 2 

Gord says “medium plus gold. Nose is light, with a herb and apple note, green plum (quince) appear as it warms. Slightly less than low/medium acid, apple kiwi attack, citric mid palate, beautiful balance. Long mineral zip on finish. 16 points.” This looked the oldest, and had lower acidity. I guessed it was the 2006. My second favorite wine of the flight.

Steph thought that this wine had aromas of honey, candied mango, slight petrol and spice, this wine seemed to have some age on it. The flavors of honey, dried stone fruit, minerality ended in a nice lemon finish. The wine was still light in the mouth and had a decent amount of acid. This was my # 1 pick for this tasting and is delicious. I thought this was the 2006. Very good.

Turns out it was the 2007 Cuvee du Silex.

Wine 2 – 2007 Cuvee du Silex

Wine 3

Gord says “medium plus gold. tight, slightly tutti frutti nose. Low medium plus acid, medium body, sour apple and citrus from start to finish. Fairly simple, but nice length. 14.5 points.” I guessed this was the 2008.

Steph’s critique: I got honey, a floral note with some minerality. The wine has good acid, with the taste of candied apricots, minerality and lemon. The acid showed up through the long finish. And my 2nd fav from this tasting. I guessed it was a 2007. Good +.

Turns out this wine was the 2009 regular Jasnieres. Thanks Todd for donating this bottle!

Wine 3 – 2009 Jasnieres

Wine 4 

Gord says “pale/medium gold. tight nose, a bit of lemon. medium plus acidity, medium body, herbal lemon white fruit on the palate. 15 points.” I guessed this was the 2011, it seemed the freshest.

Steph on #4: Again, slight floral, mineral with a bit of honey. The stonefruit, pineapple and lemon ended with a lemon finish. Light in body with plenty of acid. I chose 2008 as the vintage. OK+.

Turns out it was the 2010 regular Jasnieres.

Wine 4 – 2010 Jasnieres

Wine 5

Gord says “pale medium gold. This has the most intense nose, medium. Aromas of honey, apple, a bit of dry herb. low medium acid, medium/full intensity flavor, apple and lime. medium long finish. This wine has beautiful balance, great intensity and depth. 16.5 points. My favorite.” I guessed this was the 2007.

Steph’s take on 5: On the nose distinctly green olives, with a slight petrol note and floral undertones.  I tasted dried apricot, wet stone, honey and thought it was slightly earthy. Acid was good and this wine finished with a long lemon finish. 2009 seemed right to me at the time. Good +.

Turns out that it was the 2008 regular Jasnieres.

Wine 5 – 2008 Jasnieres

Wine 6

Gord says “pale medium gold. tight, slightly herbal nose. Smells dry, with a mineral note. medium minus acid, medium plus body, herbal lemon attack and mid palate with a minerally finish. 15 points.” I guess this was the 2010.

Steph says: This nose was closed more than the others, got faint whiff of honey and a mineral quality. The wine taste like apricot, mineral and lemon. The body is light and though acid is present, this wine was not as interesting as the previous wines, though definitely still pleasant. I chose 2010 for the vintage of this wine. OK+

Turns out it was the 2011 regular Jasnieres.

Wine 6 – 2011 Jasnieres

For those scoring at home, the views of the tasters were all over the map with all wines getting at least one first place vote. The overall winner was wine 2, closely followed by wine 1 and then wine 5. The group felt that all of the wines were good (“not a dog in the bunch”), and it was very educational to see how the wines evolved and changed with time. All in all, “a really good tasting”.

1 thought on ““A Really Good Tasting” – Janvier Jasnieres Vertical”

  1. You’re right, a great producer. I’m partial to the Coteaux du Loir Rouge Cuvée du Rosier made from Pineau d’Aunis — in addition to the Jasnieres Chenin. Cheers!

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