Domaine Philippe Gilbert
Sometimes the most significant discoveries are serendipitous. A few years ago, tasting through a selection of wines from a UK merchant (now sadly closed down – one of many victims of the recent economic recession) I came across a bottle of red Menetou-Salon. Pinot Noir from the central vineyards rarely excites, I find. To be clear, sometimes it can be nothing less than thrilling, but more often than not the wines don’t simply press the buttons that I think need pressing. Here in this bottle, however, was something promising; there was attractive fruit, an edge of Pinot Noir mushroom, and bright acidity. It certainly suggested further investigation was warranted.
And serendipity sometimes knocks twice. This need to investigate further was still in the back of my mind when, a year or two later, I met the man behind that wine at a tasting in Angers, in France. It turns out this is a very committed individual, one who runs his domaine (of some considerable size – 28 hectares to be precise) with a staunch biodynamic philosophy. It saddens me that such activity in Bordeaux would be trumpeted by the mainstream wine press until every man and his dog knew about it (“oh really – Château Pontet-Canet is biodynamic – gosh, who knew?“), and yet here in a Loire backwater a vigneron can work his fingers to the bone with barely a moment of acknowledgement.
But that’s a story for another time, I think. Returning swiftly to topic, the man in question is Philippe Gilbert (pictured above). And this is the story of the man, his vineyards, and his wine.