For lovers of real wine, the name Jean-Pierre Robinot and his story are legendary. He fell in love with wine at a young age, moved to Paris, met some of the natural wine movements true pioneers and subsequently opened one of the first bars dedicated to such wines in the city, L’Ange Vin and founded France’s premier journal on the topic, ‘Le Rouge et le Blanc’. It was only a matter of time before he could not resist the urge to join the vignerons he so loved and in the early two thousands he left Paris and moved back to the village where he grew up in the very north of the Loire to do just that. Jean-Pierre farms a total of seven hectares of land across two appellations, Jasnières and the Coteaux-du-Loir. The vines are planted over a mix of red clay, limestone and silex and are tended organically, with the majority of treatments coming in the form of infusions of wild plants such as nettles and ferns. Parcels are harvested by hand individually and fermentations take place in the labyrinth of ancient limestone caves beneath the vines. They go slow and steady and can often last months, even years. The wines rest on their lees in the barrels which line the dark, damp cellars here for as long as they need, we tasted some that have been waiting for over ten years. However, there is method in the madness, Jean-Pierre is a master of élevage and by the time each wine is bottled with nothing added or taken away, it has attained an energy, poise and vitality that is hard to find elsewhere.
Pineau d’Aunis is always a thrill when Jean-Pierre is involved and this is no different. This comes from a forty year old parcel and is fermented on skins in whole bunches for two weeks, before being pressed off to barrel to rest for two years. The nose is scented thick with spice and, reflecting the vintage, the palate is a little deeper and darker than usual, with a wonderful savoury character.