PASCAL JOLIVET’S SAUVIGNON BLANCS REFLECT THE LOIRE VALLEY’S VIVID EXPRESSIONS OF SANCERRE AND POUILLY FUMÉ
by Meridith May
AFTER TASTING THROUGH more than a dozen examples of thrilling white wines—their acidity like a whip, a tightrope, and a fine thread weaving and sparking on the tongue—you begin to understand the nature of Domaine Pascal Jolivet.
Winemaker Valentina Buoso joined Jolivet in 2013 after accumulating years of experience in Italy, California, Chile, Oregon, Australia, and New Zealand. She says she considers herself “passive” when it comes to her signature style, meaning she allows the fruit to develop its own natural potential and avoids the use of both chemicals to clarify the juice or cultured yeast to activate fermentation. “A shared philosophy was clear when [founder Pascal Jolivet] and I first met,” she admits. “We have the same points of view concerning the respect of nature and the grape—we like to make wine with the aim to allow the terroir to express itself.”
Jolivet established the winery in 1987 in the Loire Valley, where the domaine owns more than 120 acres of prime vineyards spread across the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. According to Jolivet, Buoso’s extensive knowledge of indigenous yeasts heightens the fruit character, elegance, and precision of the wines. “Valentina is a perfectionist and focuses on the quality of the juices coming from the organic grapes of our vineyards,” says Jolivet, who practices Biodynamic winemaking. “As a result, the wines are fruit-focused, which perfectly integrates with the natural acidity and the magic of nature I am trying to grab when making the wines.”
Tasting the 2017 Vintage
A complicated and early vintage in the Loire, the 2017 harvest began in early September and saw a 50 percent decrease in Pouilly-Fumé production over 2016; Sancerre, meanwhile, was down 20 percent from the previous year. The harvest showed promise despite a heat wave in June, and on a positive note, the vintage displays fine acidity and generous fruit despite quantity being lower than expected.
Here are our top picks after tasting through the line:
Domaine Pascal Jolivet 2017 Sancerre ($29) is sourced from three vineyards in the heart of the appellation with altitudes between 650–1,300 feet above sea level. The Les Caillottes vineyard proffers chalky soils; the Les Terres Blanches vineyard is a hilly site with compact chalk atop marl; and the Silex is punctuated with limestone and flint. The resulting acidity is cut like glass with notes of grass and lime wedge. 93
Domaine Pascal Jolivet 2017 Sancerre Rosé ($23) offers a sensationally clean nose and silky mouthfeel. Underlying notes of rhubarb, watermelon, and a hint of tarragon make this 100 percent Pinot Noir a standout. It’s fermented in stainless steel. 92
Domaine Pascal Jolivet 2017 Pouilly-Fumé ($30) is sourced from 20 acres in three separate vineyards owned by Jolivet. The soils range from glacial to calcareous to clay-siliceous. Flinty and lean, white flowers surge with a chalky mouthfeel. Powdered lemon is on the nose and palate, engineering the acidity to high definition. 93
Domaine Pascal Jolivet 2017 Pouilly-Fumé Les Terres Blanches ($41) is from a clay and limestone-based single vineyard owned by Jolivet and located on the northeast side of the appellation. White chocolate and orange blossom present as the key perfumes on the nose and palate as searing acidity moderates the rich mouthfeel. Just-ripened pineapple, grass, and herbs are complex and make for a palate-refreshing white. 96
Domaine Pascal Jolivet 2017 Les Caillottes ($41) is achingly lean with a chalky mouthfeel and rigid acidity. However, any tenseness found from the minerals and acid is abated through a mid-palate of pears, peach, and apricot with a hint of anise. It’s energetic with immense age-worthy abilities. 96
Domaine Pascal Jolivet 2017 Sancerre Le Chêne Marchand ($46) reflects the beauty of the due-south exposure site where its Sauvignon Blanc grapes are grown. Serious yet willowy, this powerful expression remains refined with notes of orange peel, matcha green tea, and grapefruit arise. Wet stone attaches to the palate and zings on the finish. 97