Pascal Janvier Coteaux du Loir Blanc 2019
One boring day at the wine store many years ago, I was looking through a wholesaler’s closeout wine list, and I saw a back vintage of one of Pascal Janvier’s wines.
Misreading the Coteaux du Loir, a tiny region off of the Loir River, for the Loire Valley, the expansive region along the Loire River, I thought, “Hey, Jasnières rhymes with Savennières, and Chenin Blanc from Savennières lasts a long time. I betcha this wine might still be good!” (This episode belongs to the Seat-of-the-Pants School of Buying Wine.)
The Coteaux du Loir isn’t the Loire Valley, the Loir River isn’t the Loire River, and Jasnières isn’t Savennières. But who cares? This is one fascinating wine! And dollar for dollar, one of the best values in all of wine.
Drinking those first, older, closeout vintages of Janvier’s wines was like drinking a garden of spring greens. That image may sound like I juice too much kale, so I’ll paint you a better picture.
You’re in a garden on an idyllic, cool spring day, tending to the early baby lettuces, maybe eating a few of their young leaves now and again. Your fingers set the straw, the compost and the garden limestone. Cool water from the iron faucet washes over the palms of your hands. You eagerly begin to imagine the summer bounty you hope Mother Nature provides for you. This feeling of anticipating summer ― of cherishing and cultivating nature, of daydreaming of warmer weather, of whiling away a vernal weekend afternoon with fresh food, good wine and great friends ― that feeling of the good, green earth is what these wines are.
I allocated myself just one bottle each of Janvier’s Jasnières and Cuvée Silex this season, and I made the most of both of them. Fresh Wisconsin trout with crushed green tomatoes and roasted chèvre and chives, along with two garlic toasts ― one with crushed peas, the other with roasted Brie, spring red onions and prosciutto. And finally, squash blossoms stuffed with more chèvre, fried and served with slivered garlic scapes. But because I only got one bottle of these wines, I didn’t share either of them or any of this. But if you buy some of Janvier’s wines, I’m more than happy to recreate this experience!
You can tell by now I really like these wines.
Pascal Janvier is a butcher-turned-winemaker who cultivates Chenin Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis in the Loir Valley, and his wines are long-established fixtures of the Kermit Lynch import portfolio. Kermit says that the wines are best after aging seven to 10 years, and I agree with him. Though that didn’t stop me from drinking my two-bottle allocation of the new vintage straight away. The Jasnières is planted on clay and limestone soils and has stronger fruit notes. The Cuvée Silex is planted on flint and is smokier.
Pascal’s wines are beautiful and unique. They may be, dollar for dollar, the best wine values on the face of God’s green earth. Don’t think about their modest price. Think about how much of them you should buy.