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LE COURRIER DE L’OUEST - 7 JUILLET 2010
Le vignoble de Jo Pithon fait partie de la réserve naturelle régionale, planté sur le flanc sud de la carrière de Beaulieu sur Layon
Written by Kenny Galloway:
.....(Jo) is very friendly, approachable and casual and is knee deep in his winemaking. His Anjou Rouge is one of the best I’ve ever had.
Jesse Becker published the following:
.....parcels in Bourgueil were from the excellent lieux-dits of Les Graviers and Le Coteau, and that there were new wines on their way from Chinon and Saumur-Champigny. There will also be Savennières and Quarts-de-Chaumes under the Pithon-Paillé label, but my favorite wine will always be Les Treilles.
Un petit film...
Medisfeer - Publication in Bruxelles
13 février 2010
2010 : le grand plongeon
....Nous changeons de grotte de tuffeau et nous nous arrêtons chez un petit jeune : Joseph Paillé. L’expérience de Jo Pithon et la fougue de Joseph aux commandes du négoce Pithon-Paillé qui n’hésitent pas à instaurer un réel partenariat avec les propriétaires de parcelles (pour la majorité biologiques). Des Anjou blancs et rouges, des Savennières, des Chinons et des Bourgueils. Nous avons apprécié la gourmandise des Chinons, emprunt d’une jolie minéralité, à la matière pas trop marquée. Bon courage pour cette aventure, sans oublier Wendy et Isabelle, leur femme respective.
Septembre- Octobre 2009
Our UK Importer:
History: Despite a series of mishaps that left him with no domaine, no winery and only 5 hectares of vines, the Loire’s very own gentle giant is once again up and kicking.
In partnership with his wife Isabelle and her son Joseph, and based in the medieval castle of La Fresnaye (complete with drawbridge and dry-moat to keep wannabe financiers out?), Jo is now vinifying the wines from his own vineyards – including the prime Les Treilles slopes – and wines from grapes bought sur pied and grown to his specs in Anjou, Savennières and Quarts de Chaume, the whole topped up with a further few barrels of red from Chinon and Bourgueil.
General Comments: Set in the north Layon crus of St Lambert, Beaulieu, Chaume and St Aubin, the estate’s vines are planted mainly with Chenin Blanc, with just enough Cabernet franc to enjoy playing with.
Running the vineyards organically, Jo Pithon uses spring de-budding, summer de-leafing and where necessary, crop thinning to achieve maximum ripeness. Picking is by hand in separate tris, looking for golden rather than botrytised chenin for the dry whites and for the concentration of passerillage or botrytis for the Layons. After a gentle pressing the whites are fermented in new – 3 year old 350 litre barrels, while the red grolleau and cabernet franc age a year in barrique.
A 100% malo on the intensely elegant dry whites, batonnage and upto 18 months maturation in cask add depth and ripeness to wines clearly marked with the minerality of the schist and the breadth given by carboniferous rock, producing dry chenins of great purity and concentration. Jo Pithon is not just one of the Loire’s greatest charcters, he is also one of its very best winemakers – and his wines show perfectly the genuine potential of Loire Chenins.
Winner of the 2009 Wine Blog Trophy
January 2008 saw Jo Pithon split acrimoniously from his partner industrialist Philip Fournier, who had taken a big majority stake in Domaine Pithon in 2005. Now a year later Jo Pithon and Isabelle Pithon, along with Joseph Paille, Isabelle’s son, officially launched the first vintages from Pithon-Paillé. The new company is a combination of producer and négociant.
Jo: "We have three roughly equal sections in Pithon-Paille – one third my wine, one third Anjou Blanc produced as a négociant and one third other Loire cuvées such as Savennières, Quarts de Chaume, Bourgueil, Chinon etc. I still have the three hectare Les Treilles and two hectares in Saint-Aubin – the Clos des Bois, which includes 0.5 ha of red – Cabernet Franc. For the moment we are able to vinify and age our wines at the Château de Fresnaye (near Saint-Aubin-sur-Luigné and which dates from the 17th century). The château is up for sale but I anticipate that any sale is is unlikley to go through for a year or two. We plan to build a new chai at Beaulieu-sur-Layon in the future.
"We would like to buy all of our grapes from organic producers but for the moment this isn’t possible but 80% of the grapes that we bought in 2008 came from organic producers. Our aim this year was to produce 50,000 bottles but due to the short harvest we only made 35,000."
I ask Jo how easy it is to buy grapes especially in appellations like Savennières. "Over many years in Anjou I have built up a lot of contacts. Also in view of happened last year many producers have been happy to give me a helping hand. In particular Etienne Bonnaventure (Château de Coulaine) helped me a lot in Chinon."
We taste a range of wines –mainly unfinished ones from 2008. There will now be two cuvées from Les Treilles – a top cuvée called Coteaux des Treilles, which with represent 25% of the harvest and a second cuvée called Belargus des Treilles – named after Bleargus a blue butterfly found in the vineyard.
Clearly the events of this time last year were traumatic for Jo and Isabelle but they have turned over the page and Jo is postive and optimistic about the new venture. "I was happy to leave – they did not have the same conception of wine as I have. Instead I’m happy to be doing what I am doing now – it is a great opportunity to be buying grapes from terroirs that I have never worked with before."
Pithon-Paille are continuing to work with Charles Sydney. I just hope that there is someone with a hard business head in the new team that will keep the show on the road. Over the past 20 years commercially Jo has had a roller-coaster ride but over that period he has produced some stunning wines.
Read more what the TheWineDoctor.com has to say about our wines at
- October 2008
After a chance meeting during the harvest in Sancerre, Jo and Isabelle Pithon invited us to their home and winery, where Elizabeth and I had the pleasure of getting to know the Pithon family and their wines. It’s hard not to appreciate the history of Domaine Jo Pithon, as well as the reputation that he’s made for the quality of his wines in a relatively short period of time.
Jo started his domaine in 1978 with just 3.5 ha and grew the holdings to 27 ha by 2007. Jo has received numerous accolades for his sweet wines, including Sweet Winemaker of the Year 1994 by Le Revue du Vins, but at their new winery at Fresnaye, he told me that he is ultimately aiming to produce the "classic" dry wine for the Anjou Blanc appellation. He noted that after the wars, much of the Anjou vignoble had turned to "mass-produced and commercial styles," and added that Anjou has the potential to produce "serious" white wines from the Chenin variety with greater intensity of fruit and a more impressive structure. As Jo says, "In the Pithon style, I am the best."
Constantly seeking to improve his holdings and improve his wines, Jo has, over the years, traded out and sold some of his plots in exchange for terroirs that are better suited to his mission. Jo produces Coteaux-du-Layon, Savennières, and Anjou Rouge and Blanc. Jo is particularly proud of his work at Les Treilles, a 6 ha vineyard located in the village of Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné which had been abandoned after the war and became overgrown with woods and brush. The Pithon family cleared the lieu-dit of Les Treilles (the name referring to a type of trellising system once common in the area) and replanted this superb south-facing parcel in 2000. Even for very young vines, Les Treilles produces wines of balanced ripeness and intense mineral character, and I share Jo’s view that this is one of the standouts in his portfolio of wines.
It was a particularly special time to have spent with the Pithons, as 2008 marks a new era for the wines of their family. Isabelle’s son, Joseph, has added his surname to that of Jo’s and they have expanded the négociant aspect of the business to include a broader range of wines, including a small amount of Bourgueil and Chinon. Jo and Joseph are vinifying and aging their wines in the cellars of a 16th century castle of an absentee owner and family friend called Château Fresnaye near Saint-Aubin de Luigné. And Joseph’s fiancée, Wendy, has just arrived from South Africa to help with the family business
We have enjoyed several memorable evenings here at Fresnaye, including a fairly competitive match of Palette with Jospeh’s younger brother Jules (also attending school for viticulture) and even enjoyed the wines of Jo’s younger brother Olivier Pithon who is making some very elegant and delicious wines in the Languedoc. The Pithon’s are generous and honest and the Pithon-Paillé is sure to continue to raise the bar for the appellation as Jo seems hell-bent on defining the benchmark style for Anjou. Elizabeth and I hope to see the Pithons again soon and plan to follow their progress closely.