François et Julien Pinon, 2020 Update

Little did I realise, as I stumbled through the main doors of the town hall in Tours for Biotyfoule 2019 that it was to be one of the most unusual and memorable tastings I had ever attended. Gathered together in the foyer were maybe two-dozen tables, manned by a high-quality selection of Touraine vignerons, all with bottles in hand. In some cases the tasting offered a wonderful opportunity to catch up with vignerons whose wines I had not tasted for years, especially Wilfrid Rousse in Chinon. Others were completely new to me, such as Alexandre Giquel, a new name to watch in Vouvray. Sometimes it was the sheer quality of the wines which impressed; François and Julien Pinon were in this latter category.

Having said that the tasting was memorable, however, I have to confess that it was not just for the wines. Throughout the day the town hall continued to function as a wedding venue (this was pre-Covid, in case you were wondering), so the tasting was regularly interrupted by large (mostly Arabic) wedding parties dancing, singing and drum-banging, along with some ear-piercing zaghrouta, as they weaved their way through the middle of the already crowded foyer.

François et Julien Pinon

I tasted for a few hours before I headed back to my little house south of Chinon. If I had realised at the time what Covid-19 would do to my tasting schedule, however, I might have lingered a little longer. Within a few weeks news started filtering out of China about a new coronavirus, at that time still unnamed. The Salon des Vins de Loire and Wine Paris went ahead, but after that everything else began to unravel. Looking back, I am grateful to the opportunities I had during that trip, which comprised three days of tasting in the Loire Valley and four days in Bordeaux (plus an extra three days in Nantes at the end thanks to an air traffic control strike – some things never change). At the time I think I took the ease with which I could travel and taste somewhat for granted. What I wouldn’t give to be stranded at Nantes airport right now….

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