By CELIA STRONG
A wine’s name can reveal a lot about the wine, from its reason for being to our reason for drinking it. And, as usual, a good name is a good way to remember the wine. This week, it’s all about Attitude.
The Loire Valley in western France has a long history with wine. There is archeological evidence that the Romans planted the first vineyards there in the 1st century AD. Viticulture, the growing and tending of wine grape vines, flourished in this area for several reasons: The soils and microclimates here are well-suited to vines; the valley, with its rich soils, is a little bit warmer than areas just to the north and south of it; and, a variety of soil types from one end of the Loire River to the other allow a large variety of different grapes to succeed there.
Besides wine grapes, the valley was a great source for many other agricultural products, including cherries, artichokes, asparagus, and fruit trees of all sorts. It was known as the Garden of France.
In addition, and because of its milder climate, the 300-mile river became the location for many extravagant chateaux. In past centuries, French nobility built summer castles in the Loire Valley. Some French kings even built one chateau in one town for their wives and legitimate children and extended families, and another a few miles away in another town for their mistresses. There’s an attitude!
Domaine Pascal Jolivet (joe-lee-vay) was established in 1987. The family had started as wine merchants, father Louis and his son Lucien. In 1982, Louis’ grandson, Jacques, founded his own distributing company and encouraged his 22-year-old son Pascal to work at Maison Champagne Pommery when he was 22 years old. Contacts from Champagne backed Pascal with his own wine brand under his own name.
Pascal built his new wine cellar in Sancerre at the far eastern end of the Loire River. From his experience in the Champagne region, he used state-of-the-art equipment, like temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. (At the end of the 20th century, stainless tanks were not as commonly used as now.) And, despite not owning any vines or vineyards in the beginning, Pascal insisted on using 100% indigenous yeasts and all natural winemaking. He acquired his first land in 1995, and his Sancerre wines were twice named by the Wine Spectator in its Top 100 wine lists. Over the years, Jolivet has grown in land holdings, reputation and awards and added a new bottling cellar.
Attitude is a group of three wines (a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Noir and a Rosé). Pascal’s goal with this label is to produce high quality Loire wines, just not necessarily from Sancerre. They are produced from a 57-acre estate located to the west of Sancerre, in the Touraine part of the Loire Valley. (It is worth noting, two of the most famous chateaux, Cheverny and Chambord, border his vineyards.) This estate has two distinct soil types — limestone in some places and sandy in others. All three wines are made with natural winemaking and practices that are environmentally-friendly. Pascal’s philosophy is let nature take its course. Attitude Rosé is the result of this.
This wine is a blend of 34% Pinot Noir, 33% Cabernet Franc and 33% Gamay. All three varieties are grown in different sites and appellations along the river. These grapes are grown in chalky and calcareous clay soils, all organically. Both soils help enhance the grapes’ fruit aromas and freshness. Grapes are hand-harvested and maceration is done before hand sorting and de-stemming. After pressing, the juices of each variety are slow fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel tanks.
Attitude Rosé, with its precise blend of grapes, is a unique, almost sensual shade of bright rosy pink. Its aromas and flavors include strawberries, red raspberries, currants, peaches, mangos, red plums and green herbs like thyme and basil. It is medium-bodied with crisp, balanced flavors and a refreshing acidity. It is young and vibrant and full of attitude — everything Pascal meant it to be. For $14.99. Enjoy.