Andrew Guard

Jasnierès & Coteaux du Loir

Jasnières and it's neighbour Coteaux du Loir are tiny appellations 25 miles north of Tours on the smaller Loir River in the central part of France's Loire Valley. Both appellations produce delicious dry white wines exclusively from Chenin Blanc. The wines are rare, and in the case of Eric Nicolas, amongst the greatest white wines produced in the Loire Valley. This is an incredible source of white wine and in the best handful of Chenin Blanc producers in the world.

Eric Nicolas is a very smart, deep thinking and passionate grower. He developed an interest in wine whilst working as an engineer, electing to leave the comfort and security of his career and deciding, in preference, to pursue the life of a vigneron. The search for a suitable location started much further south, but prohibitive pricing in more recognized regions eventually pushed him to the Loir where he settled with his wife, Christine in the early 1990s.

On arrival in the valley in 1994 the Nicolas family began to search for old and often abandoned plots of vines, buying 1.5 hectares of vacant land in Jasnières which they would still need to plant. They restarted their enterprise in 1995 with just 3.5 hectares in the Coteaux du Loir. Today they have amassed a total of thirteen hectares of rented or purchased vineyards across fifty parcels over the five communes of Lhomme, Ruillé-sur-Loir, Chahaignes, Marçon and Dissay-sous-Courcillon.

The cellar consists of five tunnel-like caves that penetrate the tuf to a depth of between 15 and 20 metres each and are typical of those found throughout the valley. The parcels are vinified separately in quantities most producers would consider unviable. The final blends are based on the age of the vines and the origins of their soils. There is no rush for the wines to complete fermentation, and barrels can be heard gurgling gently away in September following the harvest, whilst the malolactic in the reds can extend into a second year. There is never any chaptalization, such is Eric’s confidence that his soils and diligence in the vines will bring the fruit to full maturity. The fermentations are conducted solely by indigenous yeasts and where possible, the wines are bottled unfiltered.


Written by Andrew Guard — June 23, 2012