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Pithon-Paillé

Pithon-Paillé

Walking along the ridge of schistous rock that runs above the Coteau des Treilles it is not too difficult to see how so many have been bewitched by this place. The first thing any lover of the wines of the Loire Valley will notice has to be the near-vertiginous drop to one side. Here, on a south-facing slope no less dramatic than that of Les Monts Damnés in Chavignol, so steep that one can only crawl up it (and, should you be less than sure-footed, fall down it) the Pithon and Paillé families planted Chenin Blanc. The vines rise up like a tidal wave above the cool waters of the Layon which passes below, although it is largely shaded from view by a dense thicket of shrubs and small trees at the foot of the slope. Here, providing you know what to look for, you may also catch sight of American vines growing wild, vineyard-escapees from the immediate post-phylloxera era when American vines and hybrids seemed like a good solution. Decades later, some of their offspring are still thriving in the wild here.

Pithon-Paillé

Once you have become accustomed to the heady drama of the slope and its blanket of vines, and the magnificent vista over Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay and its vineyards, the raw beauty of the Coteau des Treilles also begins to permeate. The rocks, rough and weather-worn, are dressed with plants that shimmer vibrantly in hues of citrine and amethyst (pictured above). Some of these are hardy, warm-weather shrubs that seem out of place here in the occasionally damp Ligérian climate; indeed, numerous plants found here would be more at home on craggy slopes overlooking the Mediterranean sea. That these plants, like those American vines, also thrive here is testament to the beneficial microclimate offered by these rocky, south-facing slopes. The Coteau des Treilles is also a site that has much to offer the amateur lepidopterist; the keen-eyed may be fortunate enough to spot a specimen of Lysandra bellargus (also known as the Adonis Blue) which, despite its known predilection for chalky grasslands, seems to have made its home here on these schistous slopes.

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