The Coteaux du Loir and Jasnières were once a sleepy backwaters in the Loire Valley. The Loir Valley is such […]Keep Reading
The Coteaux du Loir and Jasnières were once a sleepy backwaters in the Loire Valley. The Loir Valley is such a backwater for most wine drinkers that many think we’ve omitted an “e” in its name. Le Loir is a tributary of La Loire. It joins La Loire at Angers after flowing southwest past the sleepy villages south of Le Mans. As the most northerly appellations of the Loire Valley, it wasn’t easy to achieve full ripeness here through much of the 20th century, and a cool vintage in the rest of the Loire would spell disaster here. Reaching a low point in production in the 1950s and 60s, this region slowly began to recover from the devastation of phylloxera, two World Wars, and the industrialization of agriculture. But by the turn of the century, the region was home to a small, passionate, and innovative cadre of talented winemakers. So while Le Loir might be off the radar for many wine drinkers, it has slowly developed a dedicated following who prize the mineral purity of Chenin from Jasnières – imagine the marriage of Vouvray and Savennières – and the cheery, peppery, and cherry fruit-driven Pineau d’Aunis from the Côteaux du Loir.
Jon-David Headrick has always been excited at the potential of both Coteaux du Loir and Jasnières, and he has visited regularly, looking for the right property to bring to the US. While the Coteaux du Loir is geographically large, there are less than 100 hectares of vines, about a dozen producers, and a handful of growers. Jasnières, despite being smaller in size, focused solely on Chenin Blanc and entirely within the boundaries of Coteaux du Loir, has slightly fewer hectares. Altogether, this amounts to less than 130 hectares. Once you start limiting your options to growers who farm organically, if not biodynamically, pick by hand, avoid manipulations in the cellar, and make captivating wines, you may understand Jon-David’s excitement when he met Jean-Damien & Aurély Gazeau-Baldi and tasted their first vintage.
Jean-Damien Gazeau-Baldi followed a familiar, somewhat circuitous route to Vigneron. Descended from generations of farmers and hoteliers, Jean-Damien started working in the field of gastronomy as a caterer and later as chef de rang at a two-star bistro in Lyon. With a growing fascination with the interplay between food and wine, Jean-Damien began formal studies in viticulture and enology. After his diploma, he worked at several large properties in Burgundy, Beaujolais and the Rhône, honing his skills. Aurély Gazeau-Baldi’s family has deep roots in the Sarthe, the French department in which the Coteaux du Loir is located. After a period of youthful wanderlust, Aurély settled in Lyon, where she studied education, became a school teacher, and met Jean-Damien. In 2020, the couple moved to the Sarthe, where Aurély taught at a primary school, and Jean-Damien became the sommelier at Chez Miton in Chahaignes. While working there, a chance encounter with local enologist Sandrine Pairel led to the founding of Maison Gazeau-Baldi in 2022.
Maison Gazeau-Baldi was founded after Jean-Damine and Aurély purchased Domaine de la Gaudinère from Danielle and Claude Cartereaux. Located in the heart of Jasnières and totaling 8 hectares, this estate was the ideal size for Jean-Damien and Aurély. For Jean-Damien, it was a welcome departure from his experience working at larger estates, while for Aurély, it has been a crash course of hands-on training in the vineyard and cellar. Recognizing the quality of their new terroirs, they began the conversion to organic and biodynamic farming in 2022. In the cellar, they follow no recipe, and their work in the vineyards informs the fermentation and elevage of the wines. They harvest by hand and do a second sorting at the cellar; fermentations occur spontaneously, SO2 is kept to a minimal antiseptic level, and they avoid reductive practices, feeling that judicious exposure to oxygen makes their wine more expressive in their youth while retaining the ability to age.
Having tasted their thrilling 2022s and seeing where they are headed, Jon-David couldn’t be more excited to add to his already diverse and talent-filled portfolio both Jasnières and the Côteaux du Loir fromDamien and Aurély’s Gazeau-BaldiClose