Pascal Janvier

Twenty years ago Pascal Janvier, age 30, was in butchery school. Given his deep respect of food and wine and tradition, there's no doubt he would have been amazing. Worth driving hours out of your way to a remote corner of France to shop with him. You can imagine an alternate world in which Bill Buford interns there and tells amusing stories of life in rural France.

But in the universe we live in, Pascal Janvier dropped out of butchery school and decided to make wine. In this world we have one of the world's great off-the-beaten-path domaines making delicious and stupidly-affordable wine.

Pascal didn't have much to work with. He grew up in a family with vines, though they didn't make wine. But those vines weren't exactly located in prime real estate; not even in the Loire Valley proper, but on a tributary that runs north of the Loire confusingly named the Loir. It’s a particularly cold spot and it’s difficult to ripen grapes.

So hard that the wine region went virtually extinct in the decades following the War. Even today, only about 100 hectares of vines are productive. Janvier works about 10% of them, mostly in the Loir AOC of Jasnières.

In his 20 years, Pascal has learned to produce something very special from those vines, turning the detail-oriented obsession would have made him a destination butcher to wine production instead. He has discovered that some vines grow in soils with silex (the local flint), which is also true of Huet’s great Le Mont and the Chenin Blanc of Foreau in Vouvray.