There is one thing you can’t get from a trade tasting, a visit to a wine salon or a tasting videoconference (mostly on Zoom, but I wonder if some French vignerons pride themselves on finding the most obscure alternative to use), and that’s a feel for the vineyards. To take a walk or even a drive around and through the vines gives an unassailable understanding not only of the domaine in question, but also any neighbouring domaines and how they all relate to one another, and indeed the appellation as a whole.
This would explain (if any explanation is required) my response to the opening question from Christophe Pichot when we first met. This encounter, by the way, was more of a challenge than you might imagine. Greeting one another in the midst of a pandemic, but outside of any local lockdown, we attempted to communicate at an appropriate distance, from behind our mandated face masks, naturally trying to ensure we did not exchange any invisible viral particles along with our greetings. After all, I had no desire to infect anyone in Vouvray with Covid-19, especially not the scion of what is arguably the appellation’s longest-established domaine.
“What do you want to do during your visit?”, asked Christophe. The answer was an easy one, and in response we hopped into his electric Range Rover (well, in my case ‘clambered awkwardly’ is perhaps more accurate than ‘hopped’, but in my defence its height off the ground was more akin to a military truck than a family car) and we began one of the most informative tours of Vouvray’s vineyards I have ever experienced. We passed through vineyards both familiar and strange, including some very famous lieux-dits. Christophe’s holdings in this appellation are extensive, and enviable.