Jo Pithon Savennières La Croix Picot 2005
This week a wine from one of the leading Angevin domaines, Jo Pithon, a natural trigger for me to provide more news on the recent events regarding the ownership of the property, and Pithon's role at the domaine. I have already alluded to these events on this site in a posting back in February, but now being more informed I can provide some more detail. I met with Alexandre Forge, commercial manager at both Domaine Jo Pithon and Château de Chamboureau, at Stéphane Derenoncourt's La Grappe tasting at Château La Gaffelière. Forge was there showing two wines from Château de Chamboureau (both excellent, as it happens) where Derenoncourt consults, having been invited to do so by the property's owner Philip Fournier, and it was Forge who brought me up to date.
Fournier is chairman and managing director of Afone, a French telecommunications company with its headquarters in Angers. He entered the fray in 2005 when he bought out Jo Pithon's debts, which were considerable. He thus acquired Domaine Jo Pithon three years ago (and Château de Chamboureau the following year) but Pithon's services were retained, so he continued to work as general manager at the estate that bore his name.
The intent at the two properties was clearly to build upon the good work already done, especially at Jo Pithon, although Chamboureau perhaps demanded rather more time and investment. With that in mind Derenoncourt was brought in, and vineyard and cellar practices are being improved. All should have continued smoothly, but somewhere along the way the process was derailed, as manifested by Pithon's sudden resignation earlier this year. It seems that there was a disagreement (perhaps several) and things came to a head when it was revealed that Chamboureau and Domaine Jo Pithon were to be brought together under a single label, Domaine FL. It would seem that this was the straw that broke the camel's back, and a perhaps already strained working relationship was severed altogether.
And so Jo Pithon will be moving on to new ventures, and as he has a small parcel of vines under personal ownership perhaps we will see the rise of Domaine Jo Pithon again (indeed we have - in the shape of Pithon-Paillé). Meanwhile, Alexandre Forge has continued on in charge of the cellar and, having trained all over Europe, he brings a wealth of experience to the post. He is also extremely affable and open, and he makes an excellent ambassador for the wines. It would be good to meet him again, perhaps I may try to set up a visit later this year. In the meantime, bottles such as this one, the Jo Pithon Savennières La Croix Picot, from the 2005 vintage, will have to do. It has a very appealing depth of colour, with a straw yellow hue. The nose speaks very firmly of Chenin Blanc, with notes of honey (but not sweetness, if that is at all possible), minerals, candlewax and a little funk, which all sits beautifully interwoven with aromas of dried, very slightly sweet and candied fruit. It possesses a lovely, bright, intense, flavoursome, pure and unsullied character on the palate, showing a full body, with a firm, fresh, waxy, straw and golden fruit character. This mingles with a lovely minerality. Overall this is really very characterful, and it has a rich, firm, grippy finish. And a good length too, which just goes on and on. Firm and pure, with huge character, this is excellent. 18.5/20
I will be updating my Jo Pithon profile to reflect these events ASAP. (28/4/08)