Wine - Mai & Kenji Hodgson, Rablay-Sur-Layon, Anjou

 The wines of Mai & Kenji Hodgson had long been on my radar. Their story is well told: In a bid to become a wine writer Kenji Hodgson moved from British Columbia to Japan to do an internship at a winery in Japan where he luckily fell in with a winemaker trying to work more naturally and first tried some french Natural wines. On his return to Canada he met Mai in Vancouver who had been working in vineyards and together after a period working vineyards in British Columbia they moved to the Loire to immerse themselves in the natural wine scene, the production and the people. At first the intention was to move back to Canada and buy vines, but they couldn’t afford the land, so winemaker mentor Mark Angeli suggested buying a parcel in Anjou. They never went back.. 

They didn’t seem to be distributed in the UK - so I emailed them. On our second trip out there I got a response - You’re welcome to have lunch with us

Then another email I neglected to mention that we don’t have any wine available due to small volumes in 2016 and 2017 (frost).

Of course, we went anyway and lunch at Mai & Kenji’s is now one of the highlights of the calendar. For the conversation, the wine of course and Mai’s cooking which always has certain lightness to it compared to a lot of french winemaker lunches!
Eventually we managed to start getting very small quantities of their limited production and we feel extremely lucky whenever we receive them.

Their vineyards are on classic Anjou terroir, that is shale and schiste, they have around 4 hectares now, built up over the last ten years since they started. The vineyards are worked with care and attention to detail, they pick at full maturity but avoid botrytis (unless making their rare sweet wine).

These are uncompromising wines with a classical edge, their taste is not for the glou-glou, but for wines of structure, elegance and power, without sacrificing energy and fruit.. We sell the wines young so as not to have to reflect the cost of cellaring (though we will keep some back for a later release). These 2018’s are all drinkable now, but if you can I would recommend putting them away for at least a year to yield even greater rewards. Some of the 2016’s I tried this year, were unbelievable.

It's not hyperbolic to say that these are the kind of wines that made me want to work in wine and are some of the most rewarding you will ever drink.