Our Tasting Impressions
Several years ago, Paris underwent a major restaurant transformation. Top young chefs stopped dreaming of Michelin stars and started opening quaint bistros focused on simple ingredients and great food. The Bistronomy movement was born. This is the vinous equivalent of that. Simple yet complex. Light but deep. The very old vines are on full display. The color is pale and rusty. The nose offers rustic, red fruit with a hint of char. Such depth and a smoky note adds real interest. The tannins are mild but pronounced and the finish is long. A wine of enormous character that should improve for 8-10 years.
About this wine
100% Pineau d'Aunis from 113-year old vines planted in limestone and clay soil that is organically farmed and produces just 30 hl/ha. Manually harvested grapes are traditionally macerated with malolactic fermentation for 3-4 weeks, then aged on fine lees for 6-7 months - all in tanks.
About the grape
Pineau d'Aunis is a dark skinned grape that is indigenous to the Central Loire Valley dating back to the middle ages. Royalty in France and England cherished it from the 13th to 15th centuries. It has a light color and mild pepper flavor that makes it popular for rosés in many regions but it also has a subtle complexity and low alcohol to produce interesting and uncommon reds.
On Your Table
You name it. A terrific cheese wine. You can take this to your local bistro and enjoy it with lighter beef dishes as well. Serve at or just below cellar temperature.
The Gigou family operates their quaint 13 hectares farm in the central northern reaches of the Loire Valley - not far Le Mans, home to the famed 24-hour auto road race. Joël started the estate in 1974 along with his gracious wife Sylvie. His son Ludovic now handles much of the management and his sister Dorothée has recently joined in the efforts.
Their vineyards lie in Jasnières (8ha) and Côteaux du Loir (5ha), two fairly obscure appellations that might have faded into oblivion if not for the fine wines and tireless promotion from this family.
The vineyards in Jasnières are planted to Chenin Blanc to produce all but one of their whites, including a sweet Chenin in vintages when botrytis (noble rot) occurs.
Gamay and Pineau d'Aunis (and the Chenin for one white) is planted in Côteaux du Loir to produce their reds and rosé. They also produce sparkling wines in all three colors that are not appellation specific. The range of wines is extensive despite producing only about 40-50,000 bottles per year. There are lots of old vines.
They farm without chemicals. They harvest 60% by hand and 40% by machine (for the white grapes with stems left intact).
Now the remarkable part, Ludovic told me they keep all their bottled wines in their cellar for at least one or two years. I asked why they do this (wondering how a small estate can defer the revenue). He replied, The wine decides when it's ready. In some cases, he would hold them back even longer, except they are often out of storage space. Truly a portrait of a family whose prime concern is that the wines that bear their name are special.