TN: 2005 Joguet Les Varennes du Grand Clos Franc de Pied

I love Joguet Chinons. I really do. Cut my teeth on them during my honeymoon in Loire-Bordeaux during the mid-90s. Have since bought Joguets from many vintages, some good, some not so good. The '05s deliver almost across the board, from the yummy QPR Les Petites Roches (a gamey little gem) to the pure, brooding Clos de la Dioterie. My success, however, with the Les Varennes du Grand Clos Franc de Pied – an experiment in non-grafted Cab Franc designed, I guess, to resemble pre-phylloxera vines – has been an abysmal failure. The last 3 bottles sourced from WineEx have been bretty messes. Either due to my grinding, cyclist (some might say stubborn) nature, or the praise bestowed on this wine by some WB tasters whose palates I respect, I sourced more, but from another place.

My pursuit has yielded fruit, literally. A wine worthy of praise. A beautiful dark, red-to-purple core color elixir displaying a range aromas from smoldering cigarette ash, to violet petals, to crunchy red currants and a slight hint of eucalyptus. Medium weight on the palate with lean, tight, tangy red fruits. Currants, red raspberries, green tea leaves. Chewy fruit and chewy tannins, if not slightly drying tannins. Deep mineral streak. As much mineral as fruit. Medium length, chalky finish. An intoxicatingly deep nose that keeps drawing you back in more for the smell than the taste.

A very decent 91-point wine. Would rate higher but have some concern about the sharply dry tannins.

Thanks for the note. I haven’t tried one since release time, so you update is good to see. As for the Brett, I’ll say that I try to avoid, at a cost sometimes, buying my Joguets, Bretons, Filliatreaus, Baudrys, etc, from the West Coast because of my concern about the mix of low-sulphur wines and the Panama Canal route. My 2c.

Interesting point, Laura. This bottling was from an East Coast (Florida) retailer. Have no clue, though, whether the Joguet bottlings were delivered straight there or went to Kermit first. I’m assuming the former, but do not know for sure.

The funny part here is your description sounds exactly like the bottle I got from . . . . Wine Exchange! Right down to the smoldering cigarettes, minerality, tart fruit and floral nuances. I have to think yours were heat exposed at some point, while mine were not, crazy as it sounds, despite the same source.

Kermit Lynch supposedly always uses refrigerated containers to import. So that would narrow it down to something at the WineEx or shipping level. Mine only took a day to go from Orange to Santa Barbara in the spring, which should have minimized heat exposure.

Regardless, such an awesome wine of place. Nothing else like it, and lucky enough for me a vinous cross between cigarettes, stones and pomegranate concentrate is not so popular that the price is outrageous. Yet.

i love joguet and have never come across any brett in my bottles of 05 varennes -interesting that there may be different shipping experiences. thanks for the note.

This experience has unfortunately ended, by the way. I think 2007 is the last vintage, although I’m not 100% sure.

Joguet does not appear to have made the Franc de Pied in 2008 or 2009, so I was guessing the same thing. I recall reading somehwere that phylloxera was taking over the non-grafted vines.

Has anyone tried the '07 Joguets yet?

Indeed phylloxera finally took over. I think they said they were not going to try this again (I have to say I wasn’t paying 100% attention to this when I visited).

Has anyone tried the '07 Joguets yet?

Tried them all a few months ago and then again at home a couple of times since then. I don’t think I have much to offer, though - it was my first visit there (after tasting some of them at an off event at Vinisud) and I lack context, but I really liked what I tasted. I like these wines and the “house style” so I’m ready to buy them year in and year out. When tasting I focus more on general impression and which wine stands out (especially for my taste) than the specifics of the vintage. Pretty much all vintages have something interesting to tell so that doesn’t matter much to me.

I tried two of the 05 Varennes from Winex, and both were brett bombs unfortunately. They were shipped to me in January, so it’s highly unlikely that heat during shipping was a factor. Disappointing, as I’d love to try a clean bottle of this wine.

I’m not singling out WineEx here, but my point was about transit conditions (and potential heat exposure) to West Coast retailers whose wines come through the Panama Canal. I was not talking about transit conditions to the end purchaser. Perhaps I focus on this more than most because of the quantity I purchase, but this is always in my consideration of retailers for purchases of non-domestic wines , and especially purchases of more fragile wines such as whites and low or non-sulphur reds. All things being equal, I’d rather get it off the boat on the East Coast. Not to say that I won’t and don’t buy some from KLWM, because they are said to use reefers, but I am cautious about this.

Never noticed any brett in mine, and I’ve had plenty of 'em, each one superb. Not sure why the retailer location ought to make a difference unless batches are non-identical and one batch got affected, but mine were bought in NY.

I understood that’s what you meant, but since Kermit Lynch does use refrigerated transport (all the way through to the retailer I believe), that leaves only the conditions while at Winex and during the shipment to me. I don’t think the issue is at Winex, and since my wine was shipped during cold weather, it seems to me that at least some batches of this wine were bretty when they left the winery.

You do raise a good point in that it’s important to think about what happens to your wine before it gets to wherever you buy it from. That’s something that I didn’t use to give much thought, but have since learned the hard way that I need to.

Very weird! So I’m the only one who got non-Bretty wine from Wine Exchange. Makes me think maybe two different batches came over from Joguet. Or at least a bunch of the wine was handled poorly somewhere along the way. I order my bottles about the same time as the others.

I guess this is the new 1989 Beaucastel!

Aha, so I’m not the only one that experienced this. I think I ordered my wine in or around the same time as you. As I sit here drinking the last glass of the bottle I popped last night, I must say, it’s a damn fine wine! The wine has gained more depth of color, weight and roundness. Some sourness to the red fruits has crept in, and I’m digging it big time. Red apple peal as well. A very fine wine.

I am surprised it has been almost a year since I revisited this incredibly beguiling wine. I have had this wine now 5 times from 3 different sources, the last from Martin. Perhaps the best bottling to date (a few bretty as hell, the last two much cleaner). An intoxicating bouquet of cigar ash penetrating every fiber of my mucous membrane, red fruit and citrus, cold stones and fruit pits. Tart but mildly sweet red fruits, pomegranate and raspberry. Very grainy, leafy, with crisp tannins, not as drying as my last bottle. A very old world Chinon, surprisingly old world in juxtaposition to the Clos de las Dioterie. Both incredible wines. Both have many years ahead of them.

These Chinons have soul.