Episode 22: Jacky Blot and the Re-Invention of Chenin Blanc

Jacky Blot, as you will hear in this episode, is one of those mavericks in winemaking who come along and truly shakes things up across a wine region. In the case of Jacky Blot and Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups we are not talking about a relatively new and malleable wine region. In Jacky’s case he was inspired to re-invent Chenin Blanc wines right in the heart of their ancestral home: Vouvray and Montlouis-Sur-Loire.

Jacky Blot makes great Chenin Blanc wines in Montlouis-sur-Loire and Vouvray

The Starting Point: Chenin Blanc

Here in the middle of the Loire Valley, Chenin Blanc wines were famous and well respected. After all, Chenin Blanc wines were well established among the greatest of France’s white wines. And they had prospered and been exported to wine growing regions all over the world. From South Africa to New Zealand to California and the Okanagan Valley in Canada. But Chenin Blanc had fallen into a funk, at least by some accounts. As a wine lover and wine expert, Jacky Blot became convinced that Loire Chenin Blanc needed some love and some imagination. It needed a new approach.

Jacky didn’t come from a wine growing family but he had developed a successful wine brokerage career. He saw that Chenin was not living up to its potential and he saw the opportunity to do something about it. He decided to apply his modest financial means and a knowledge of wine into growing and making Chenin Blanc wines. His advantage was that he had a fresh perspective. He wasn’t steeped in winemaking convention in the Loire. And he knew what made for exceptional wines in the market.

The vineyards of Jacky and Jean-Phillipe Blot

Jacky Blot’s New Approach to Chenin

Jacky has risk-taking in his DNA. He had been a professional parachute jumper as a young man and had been an entrepeneur in the wine marketing business. From that perspective it is no surprise that he was willing to buck the conventional wisdom in Montlouis-sur-Loire. He was going to make wines of exceptional quality without the residual sugar that had typically marked the local wines. He had some help from a warming climate, as you will hear. But ultimately this is the story of a man with a force of will and a passion to pursue a singular goal.

Jacky’s son, Jean-Phillip Blot, is our main host in this episode. He is eloquent and articulate and provides an excellent insight into the land, the personality of his father, the grape variety and the wine making techniques. In fact, this podcast is something of a master class in sparkling wine making. Jean-Phillipe discusses the differences between Pétillant Naturel wines (or Méthode Ancestral) and the Méthode Traditionelle or Méthode Champenoise. If you are fascinated by sparkling wine you will love these insights. And of course the introduction into the making of exceptional Chenin Blanc still wines is fantastic as well. The man himself, Jacky Blot, joins us at the end of the podcast to provide his perspective – in his native French.

Meticulous sorting is one of the techniques that has permitted Jacky Blot to produce Chenin Blanc wines at a whole new level in the Loire

The Raw Material

Chenin Blanc is a grape that is more and more loved for its elegant characteristics, both on the nose and the palate. With fresh floral notes, honey and a good, strong acidic structure, Chenin Blanc is a very classy wine. And it expresses its character in different ways depending where it is grown. For this reason it is all that more gratifying that Jacky and Jean-Phillipe have pursued the making of modern, crisp, terroir-driven Chenin Blanc wines.

The caves at Domaine de la Butte in Bourgueil

Jacky’s Cabernet Franc Project in Bougueil

Note that Jacky and Jean-Phillipe are also pursuing the making of great Loire Cabernet Franc wines on some of the best land in Bourgueil. If you can find the wines of Domaine de la Butte you will be well rewarded!

Some Travel Suggestions

Mont-Louis and Vouvray

Montlouis-sur-Loire

Bourgeuil

More Loire Valley on the Wine Beat!

Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine with Pierre-Henri Gadais

The Wines of Chinon

Cremant de Loire Sparkling Wines

Sèvre-et-Maine Muscadet and Nantes

Jacky and Jean-Phillipe Blot
Harvest at Domaine de la Butte in Bourgeuil
Domaine de la Taille aux Loups is worth making the trip when you are in the Loire!

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