|A new star has emerged in the heart of the Loire Valley: he is Jacky Blot of Domaine de la Taille aux Loups, in Montlouis.
Montlouis is located on the southern bank of the Loire, not far from Tours. Blot, a Loire wine broker by profession, acquired about 8 hectares of 50-75 year old vines in 1989. These prized, ancient parcels belonged to families that could no longer continue to cultivate the vines and so entrusted them to Blot and his team. Blot brings a passion and exacting determination to make wines of only the highest quality. The estate comprises today 24 hectares in Montlouis and Vouvray and now 14 hectares in Bourgueil at his Domaine de la Butte, which Blot acquired in 2002. The core of estate lies in the Montlouis sur Loire appellation, on a high plateau overlooking the Loire River. The soil is a mix of stony limestone and clay that allows for perfect ripening of the Chenin Blanc grapes. Jacky uses double guyot pruning (T shape with 8 bunches per vines) in order to avoid rot.|
Farming practices: All the rows are plowed and no chemicals are used in order to encourage the roots to penetrate deep into the subsoil. Copper sulfite is used against mildew. This, combined with severe pruning and late season leaf-stripping, keeps yields low and enhances the concentration and complexity of the wines.
Harvest is carried out by hand, as late as possible - Jacky does never chaptalize, so he has to obtain good maturity - in successive passes through the vineyards, with a sorting table placed at the end of each row to eliminate unsuitable grapes. Usually, there are 3 to 4 teams working by parcel. Each team is composed of 16 people: 4 people to carry and at the end of each row 8 to 12 people to sort on the tables. After pressing, the wines go through a very slow fermentation - using only indigenous yeasts - for a minimum of 6 months, sometimes up to 10 months, in humid and cool cellars. The wines are all fermented in barrels that have been crafted for the domaine in Burgundy from Allier and Tronçais oak, with minimal batonnage and two rackings. None of the cuvées undergo malolactic fermentation, thus preserving acidity and enhancing the wines’ freshness. Jacky Blot keeps his barrels, which have varying degrees of toast, for up to 10 years. When new, they are used for the long-aged wines such as Remus and Clos de la Bretonniere. After 3 years, they are used for the elevage of the Spring bottlings, the Montlouis 10 Arpents and the Vouvray Caburoches. And after 5-6 years, Blot uses them for the fermentation of the base wine for his Sparkling cuvees.
|Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups Website|
|Montlouis Petillant - Triple Zero|
|A non-dose sparkling, 100% Chenin Blanc from low yielding, 50 year old vines.|
Started in 1993, the Triple Zero is one of Jacky Blot's most striking creations. This wine is unique amongst sparkling wines as only fully ripe, healthy grapes are used - the grapes are harvested at a potential of 215 grams of sugar. This allows master winemaker Jacky Blot to never add sugar during the winemaking process.
Triple Zero refers to the fact that no sugar is added during the three traditional times that sugar is usually added for sparkling winemaking: zero chaptalization, zero tirage, zero dosage.
This méthode ancestrale wine Blot describes as “above all a natural wine, that happens to have some bubbles.” The story of how it is made is interesting in its own right, and also for how it illustrates Blot’s dedication to quality and originality.
The grapes are all harvested by hand. Any fruit insufficiently ripe (i.e., under 12 degrees natural sugar) or showing any sign of rot is eliminated. The grapes are gently pressed in a pneumatic press and the two-stage fermentation begins slowly in barriques (6,7 and 8 years) with only native yeasts.
Blot bottles the wine after about 7 months, when the fermentation in barrel has proceeded to the point where the natural sugars have almost fully fermented and only about 12 grams per liter of sugar remain. It then finishes fermenting in bottle (there is no second fermentation per se, it is a continuous fermentation); the delicate bubbles develop in these bottles while resting on their sides, or sur lattes. At this phase, Blot does not add liqueur de tirage, or sugar syrup, as is it commonly practiced in Champagne. Once the fermentation is completed (after about 30 days) and the wine develops on its lees for about 24 months, the temporary capsules are removed (degorgé) from the bottles, and they are topped off with the wine itself. At this last stage before final bottling, Blot does not add liqueur d’expedition or dosage with sugar rich juice.
The result is a sparkling wine with unsurpassed elegance, purity and expression of fresh, soft citrus and pear flavors.
|Montlouis Petillant - Brut Tradition|
|40-80 year old Chenin Blanc Montlouis vines go into Blot’s Brut Sparkling. After a gentle pressing, fermentation occurs in older, neutral barriques (9 and 10 years) with only native yeasts and no chaptalization. The wine is matured and bottled according to the méthode traditionnelle, with aging in the Domaine’s cold underground cellars -cut into the limestone cliffs- for 14 months. After dégorgement, Jacky Blot uses only the smallest dosage needed (usually 3 grams) before the final bottling. |
|Montlouis Sec - Dix Arpents|
|100% Chenin blanc.|
The Montlouis Sec Les 10 Arpents comes from young massale selection vines (less than 20 year old) across several parcels on clay-limestone-siliceous soils. The vineyards are plowed and cultivated following the practice of lutte raisonnee. Blots prunes severely, with the goal of attaining a yield of about 20 hectolitre per hectare, which is tiny for the region. The grapes for the 10 Arpents are all harvested by hand in the first of three (or more) passes through the vineyard. They are then hand-selected on a sorting table. After a gentle pneumatic pressing, fermentation begins with the native yeasts and no chaptalization. The wine develops on its lees in neutral, 1/3 each 3, 4, 5 years, until the spring, when it is bottled. Blot’s 10 Arpents is a full, pure, dry Chenin Blanc with great intensity of vivid citrus and pear flavor and a soft underlying minerality.
|Montlouis Sec - Remus|
|100% Chenin blanc.|
The dry Montlouis Remus comes from non-botrytised grapes picked at the end of the harvest. The yield is about 25hl/ha. The Remus cuvée is aged in 1/3 each new, 1 year and 2 year old barrels and is bottled in the fall after the harvest. It is a very concentrated, dense wine that will age well in bottle for up to 10 years.
It is best served with rich fish dishes, white meats and goat cheeses. When young, it profits from decanting.
|Montlouis Demi Sec|
|100% Chenin blanc.|
The Montlouis Demi Sec is made from vines averaging 50 years of age, harvested in late October. Blot describes the wine as “reasonably demi-sec,” meaning that he aims to balance the freshness and elegance with 15 grams of residual sugar. As such, the Demi-Sec is very food-friendly and can age for up to 20 years.
|Montlouis - Clos Michet|
|100% Chenin blanc.|
Clos Michet is 15 hectares in total, with 3.5 hectares owned by Jacky Blot, spread over 3 parcels, all south facing and on the top of the slope. Jacky is in the process of buying 2.5 hectares extra. The vines are 30 to 70 year old, on a limestone and clay soil.
The grapes are hand-harvested in the 2nd passage (the first passage going to the "Dix Arpents"). Very small yields, 15 to 20 hl/ha. The fermentation begins with only the native yeasts and no chaptalization, and takes up to 6 months. The wine is then aged on fine lees, entirely in barriques, 1/3 each new, 1 year and 2 year old barrels.
|Montlouis - Clos Mosny|
|100% Chenin blanc.|
Jacky and Joëlle Blot took over the historic Clos Mosny from Monmousseau after the 2010 harvest. Clos Mosny is a 15 hectare Clos (12.5 hectares planted) that is now a monopole, with vines from 5 to 50 year old. It is 30 meters above the Loire river. The soil is a mix of flint and sand. The vines were not cultivated organically when Jacky bought the Clos and he had to do a lot of work to get them back to shape. Half of the benefits was reaped with the first vintage in 2011 and the quality will only continue to improve over the next 10 years. Only the best fruit (issued from the second passage or "tri" in the vineyard) from the Clos is used for the single vineyard cuvée (10,000 bottles per year) with the lesser fruit going into either Les Dix Arpents or to the base wine for Triple Zéro. The wine is aged in 1/3 each new, 1 year and 2 year old barrels.
|100% Chenin Blanc from 70 to 80 year old .|
2003 vintage: "One thing is clear to me (at the close of the harvest): this year and for once I have no regret. The strategy [to wait to pick] was the correct one to the end. We have produced bottles that are eternal. They will, I hope, be opened over many decades in moments of happiness. What pleasure!”Jacky Blot, October 23, 2003.
100% botrytised grapes picked from several parcels during the 1st week of October. Extraordinary maturity and conditions at harvest for the creation of a historic wine; virtually every berry was used. A feast of tropical fruit underpinned by a refreshing fruity acidity.
|Montlouis Romulus Plus|
|100% Chenin Blanc.|
A tiny selection of the above left to ripen for one more week. Nectar.
|Vouvray Sec - Les Caburoches|
|100% Chenin Blanc.|
Vouvray Les Caburoches used to be called Champs Rougets.
Analogous to the Dix Arpents, this accessible Vouvray is from the first passage (tri) through the vineyards and from young massale selection vines (less than 20 year old).
Blot’s Vouvray Sec Les Caburoches originates in a south-facing vineyard with limestone-clay soil on a pure limestone base. The vineyard is plowed and cultivated following the practice of lutte raisonnee. Blots prunes severely with the goal of attaining a yield of about 20 hectoliters per hectare, which is tiny for a Vouvray.
The grapes are all harvested by hand and then hand selected on a sorting table. After a gentle pneumatic pressing, fermentation begins with the native yeasts and no chaptalization. The wine develops on its lees in neutral, 1/3 each 3, 4 and 5 years, until the spring, when it is bottled. Blot’s Vouvray is a deeply textured, concentrated yet fresh and vivid Chenin Blanc.
|Vouvray - Clos Venise|
|Jacky Blot produced the first vintage of his “monopole” Vouvray Clos de Venise in 1998. It comes from a sloping, one hectare walled parcel (a Clos) with 40 year old Chenin Blanc vines in the commune of Noizay. The Clos faces due south, directly overlooking the Loire, and is sheltered by woods to the North and East. This is the most minerally and intense of Blot’s Vouvray’s, with remarkable finesse, precision and clarity.|
The grapes are hand picked on 2nd passage through the vineyards in mid-October. They are sorted on sorting tables in the vineyard, transported to the winery is small plastic crates to ensure that the fruit arrives undamaged, and then sorted again at the winery. The grapes are fermented fully dry using only native yeasts. The wine is aged in 1/3 each new, 1 year and 2 year old barrels.
The Clos de Venise was recognized in the reader’s poll of France’s Bettane and Desseauve Guide as the wine of the year. Only 20 cases were imported to the USA.
|Vouvray Clos de la Bretonniere|
|100% Chenin Blanc.|
The Clos de la Bretonnière is a south-east facing 4 hectare Clos located on the steep first slopes overlooking the Loire river. Blot is the sole owner of the entire Clos and made the first vintage in 2003. The soil here is deep clay over a limestone subsoil and the vines average 40 years of age.
Blot prunes severely to limit the number of bunches of grapes, thereby assuring that the Clos Bretonnière fruit has the concentration he is looking for, with a yield of only 20 hectolitres per hectare. The grapes are hand- harvested in the 2nd passage through the vineyard in mid-October and then selected on a sorting table. After a gentle pneumatic pressing, fermentation begins with only the native yeasts and no chaptalization. Blot ferments the Clos Bretonnière for 6 months entirely in barriques, 1/3 each new, 1 year and 2 year old barrels. Fermentation proceeds very slowly, and Blot does not add yeasts to advance the process. The wine is aged on its lees for six more months in barrel, and is bottled in November. The Clos Bretonnière combines remarkable density and richness with precision deriving from the wine’s minerality and focused acidity. It can be enjoyed young - especially if decanted –for the fruit typical of some more accessible vintages (like the 2009) or aged for many years which will bring out the nuances of a great Chenin Blanc from a top site in Vouvray.
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