By: Shannon Reader
On a foggy and cold November morning, we took the scenic drive from Paris to La-Chartre-sur-le-Loir to visit winemaker Ludovic Gigou. In a town known for car racing and crowds of summering English tourists, it’s easy to forget, or even to never have known about, the tiny appellation of Jasnières that lies just above the Loir river.
As a newcomer in the world of wine, visiting Domaine Gigou offered me new perspectives from quite a few different angles. For one, the Jasnières appellation was never one that I stumbled upon in the books I’ve read or any carte de vin that I’ve perused in Paris. All of the wines were completely new and fresh to all of us. Everyone was surprised by, and enjoyed, the unique terroir that comes through in both the Chenin Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis that Ludovic makes. I hadn’t tasted much of either varietal before, making the learning experience all the more interesting and revealing. This was also the first time I was able to interact with a winemaker for longer than a few minutes. While I didn’t say much myself, listening to Ludovic was nonetheless exciting. The showstopper at the end of our tasting was a sparkling red Pineau d’Aunis, méthode traditionnelle vintage 2009 (I bet you had to read that an extra time or two). I can say with absolute confidence that it was a wine that I, and neither Josh nor Ryan, had ever tasted before, falling somewhere on the spectrum between “This wine is great, exceptional” and “It’s just weird and confusing.” Either way, we couldn’t stop talking about it. After tasting it a couple of more times, my verdict is that it is, indeed, great.
After lunch at a brasserie, with car race photos covering the classically wallpapered walls, and where everyone seemed to know everyone else, we headed to the vines. As he showed us around (another first checked off of my ever-growing wine to-do list), Ludovic picked up chunks of soil, limestone, and flint to show us the terroir composition. For a visual learner like me, it not only helped but was fascinating to see exactly where the wine came from and some of the notes that I was tasting. Now I get it.
A lot can be said about the wine and appellation themselves (exciting, fresh, and a little quirky) but, for me, the most interesting points of the day were listening to Ludovic talk about them. It was clear from the start of our visit that he’s passionate about his region and his wine, and that it’s something we should all know a little bit more about. Every time we opened a new bottle to taste, I could see him eagerly awaiting our reactions and tasting the (literal) fruits of his labor, especially when he brought out his sparkling wines. His enthusiasm was contagiously palpable as he spoke about the domaine, the terroir, and making authentic wines. I’m excited to see where his wines go next, both in terms of evolving and where in the world we’ll next taste them.
For someone whose wine journey started at an overpriced rosé tasting tour as a student in Aix-en-Provence, Jasnières was quite the leap forward—but it’s leaps like these that I hope to keep making and learning from.
Check out our recent Instagram about our day trip to Domaine Gigou: @ParisWineCo
And the more detailed biography on the domaine and its wines