Variety: Chenin Blanc
Country, Region: France, Loire Valley
This release is from the 2018 vintage (though no vintage noted on the label). The fruit comes primarily from vines located further behind the village from vineyards more suitable for sparkling wine.
The cuvée is made in the méthode traditionnelle and is aged on its lees for typically two to three years, before disgorgement and re-corking with zero dosage, with each order being disgorged especially for us sur commande. The result is a very fresh and quite full bodied sparkling Vouvray, with a fine and lively mousse and a textbook Chenin Blanc flavour profile. It drinks very well as an aperitif and also throughout the meal, accommodating both lighter and richer courses.
'Although this entry-level sparkling wine is officially non-vintage, the truth is the fruit was from 2018. It has no dosage. The nose is smoky and fresh, with a dried-fruit richness and plenty of character. Fresh and lightly honeyed on the palate, with more dried-fruits substance. It is dry, with a fine mousse, and ultimately a very fresh, light but fine character. It is the sort of wine you might imagine drinking up in a year or two, although the wines tasted alongside suggest that might be rather hasty.' 92 points, Chris Kissack, Wine Doctor, October 2020.
Despite its 'entry level' status, Pichot's Vouvray Brut has proven to be capable of considerable cellaring, in keeping with Chenin Blanc's enviable reputation in that regard. As the following review attests:
'This non-vintage cuvée, again tasted at the domaine, in fact hails from the 1999 vintage, and it has been hiding in the Pichot cellars for two decades. It was a difficult vintage afflicted by grey rot, so my expectations here were low. Golden and rich in the glass, the nose starts off with smoky and lemony veins, initially rather stern and old school, but these give way to more evolved notes of honeyed truffle and grilled, caramelised fruits, with not a hint of rot. The palate has a fine style, smoky and evolved, with toasted fruits, showing a good evolution, with lots of character. This is an exceptional result in what was a difficult vintage. Well done.' 94 points, Chris Kissack, Wine Doctor, October 2020.
'Less well known than Huet or Clos Naudin, the Pichots merit as much praise.' Le Guide des Meilleurs Vins de France, La Revue de Vins de France
The Pichot family is one of the oldest in Vouvray with origins as restaurateurs going back to 1739 later followed by the purchase of the superb Coteau de la Biche vineyards in 1770 establishing them as growers to help supply the restaurant. Their vineyard holdings are mostly located all at the top of the village with the largest holding which makes up their classic Coteau de la Biche in the prime Vallee de Nouys which is perfectly sited for making drier styles of wine and faces south-east. The Pichot family also own most of the “premiere coteau” site of Le Marigny located just above the village opposite Clos du Bourg. These are quite simply regarded as being amongst the very best vineyard sites of the appellation.
All vineyards are farmed organically with grasses grown between the rows to reduce the uptake of moisture and vigour to the vines. The average age of vines is high with the Clos Cartaud vines around 75 years old. While Vouvray as a whole produces about 40% sparkling wines and 60% still wines at Domaine Pichot more than 85% are still wines made into sec, demi-sec or moelleux and less than 15% being made as sparkling wines. The style of the wines here is among the driest of the appellation for each style with sec typically being from 3-7 gms/litre residual and demi-sec from 13-17 gms/litre with moelleux most often around 60 gms/litre. Harvesting is mostly done by hand and yields are kept low at an average 25 hl/ha.
One of the first domaines of Vouvray to export to the U.S.A. Domaine Pichot are perhaps better known in export markets than at home in France as Christophe spends most of his time ‘hands-on’ in the vineyards and winery and being such a small producer he is very focused for each step of production. Domaine Pichot are very well known for the brilliant quality of the stunning sweet wines, although their dry and demi-sec wines are also superb. Right across the range these are remarkable wines that will age effortlessly for decades (as vintages back to 1950’s very generously shared from the family cellar have demonstrated) and will also provide great satisfaction from a young age.