Jacky Blot's 2015s and 2016s - great Loire whites hitting their stride

Jacky Blot's 2015s and 2016s - great Loire whites hitting their stride
Chenin Blanc is something of a sommelier darling at the moment. And it’s not hard to see why. Possessing excellent natural acidity, intense and often complex flavours and ability to age for decades, it offers drinkers an affordable alternative to white Burgundy and is a fantastic partner to great food. Across the new world, from established hotspots like South Africa to newer converts like America, growers are finding it capable of producing wines that maintain freshness even in warmer conditions. But of course its spiritual home is in the Loire. Here, great limestone and schist soils produce wines of startlingly clairity and energy. They can be broad yet steely, with some of the minerality and acidity of Riesling alongside the depth of Chardonnay, commingling creaminess and seduction with sheer nerve and laser cut lines.


One of the great proponents of this variety is a man called Jacky Blot, the man behind Domaine de la Taille aux Loups. His efforts over the past thirty odd years have almost single handedly given recognition to the village of Montlouis, situated directly across the river from the more historically famous Vouvray. The domaine today has a portfolio of vines whose average age is startingly old - even Remus, from a selection of chalk rich soils across the esate, is produced from vines averaging over 60 years old. It is little wonder the wines have such intriguing and complex mineral profiles. Come harvest, the grapes are picked by hand and sorted religiously before undergoing fermentation in generally old french barriques. After that very little happens as they age in Jacky's cool limestone cellars on their lees for almost a year, awaiting bottling without fining or filtration. The results are vibrant expressions of Montlouis terroir that benefit hugely from a couple of years in bottle.

We recently opened a range of 2015s and 2016s and found two different, but equally enjoyable vintages that are both starting to hit their strides. The warm 2015 vintage has produced wines of immense vitality, minerality and tension. The team picked earlier than in recent hot vintages and the wines have a level of energy that propels their ripe flavours across the palate and beyond. Apples, quince, honey, limestone and various citrus elements define the aromatics while the structures are focussed, full of extract and very long. The 2016 vintage was one dominated by frost at the end of April, a devastating cold snap that reduced the crop by almost 60%. Beyond that the vintage was warm and allowed for great ripeness at harvest. The resulting wines are concentrated but also beautifully fruity and moreish. They veer more towards the stone and yellow fruit end of the spectrum, with intensity and aromatic fruits playing off each other beautifully. The three cuvees are described in full detail online, so please follow the link below for more detail and full tasting on notes on each individual wine.