A Visit to Pithon-Paillé, 2010

No other region of France provides us with such a kaleidoscopic array of wine styles as that given to us by the Loire. From bracing and salty whites through richer barrel-fermented styles, early drinking reds and those meant for the cellar, sparkling wines and sweet, if you want it the Loire can give it to you. And there is perhaps no better microcosm of this than the wines of Anjou, a melting pot of styles where dedicated vignerons turn out divine and dry low-yield Chenin Blanc, heady and perfumed Cabernet Franc, fizzy Crémant de Loire and of course all the sweet wines for which the region is justly famous. And remarkably, it is not unknown for these wines to originate from vineyards that almost neighbour one another.


Affordable vineyards also mean the Loire is also a hotbed of new and emerging domaines, sometimes run by very young vignerons, freshly returned from the seemingly obligatory New World apprenticeships. The Pithon and Paillé families don’t really fit this mould, Jo Pithon being one of the region’s better known names, but Pithon-Paillé – a venture with his stepson Jo Paillé – is certainly a new start-up for them, a young business not long established. It was born from the remnants of the Pithon estate, a handful of vineyards held by Jo when he and his one-time financier Philippe Fournier went their separate ways. That was several years ago now, and aware that they were taking on new premises in St Lambert du Lattay I recently visited the domaine, not to reflect on the events of the past, but to see what was going on now – and what was planned for the future – at Pithon-Paillé.

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