Domaine Pichot Vouvray Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette 2009
Jean-Claude Pichot’s family is one of the oldest in Vouvray, with origins as viticulturists and restaurateurs dating back to 1739. The family cellars are located in the charming village of Vouvray, in caverns hewn from the rolling hills which were once quarried to provide stone to construct the grand châteaux of the Loire. Domaine Pichot was established in 1996, uniting the three historic vineyards of the family: Coteau de la Biche, Le Peu de la Moriette, and Le Marigny. The 60 acres of vineyards are all in Vouvray, six miles east of Tours on the right bank of the Loire River. The vines are thirty years old on average and are all of the Chenin Blanc variety. In an era when most Vouvray wines are bottled by ne´gotiants, the stylish wines of the Pichot family continue to show the perfumed elegance of Chenin Blanc and are authentic expressions of a particular terrain, climate, cellar, and the winemaker’s art.
An important white wine appellation in the Touraine and one of the top in all of the Loire, Vouvray uniquely specializes in a wide range of styles from dry to sweet, and still to sparkling, each with its own definitive character. Vouvray is almost always 100% Chenin blanc (however up to 5% Menu Pineau is theoretically allowed but not often used).
Vouvray is also the name of a pretty little town just east of Tours on the northern bank of the Loire—its vineyards surround it to the northeast. Houses and cellars are carved out of the local tuffeau, a chalky or sandy, fine-grained limestone. Vineyards inhabit clay and gravel topsoil over tuffeau on the plateau, the best of which have a slight slope with a southerly aspect.
Chenin blanc’s high acidity and natural adaptability allow it to produce a wide range of styles with enormous success. Styles under the Vouvray name include sparkling, both Brut and Demi-Sec and still: Sec (dry) and Tendre (off-dry) as well as Demi-Sec (noticeably sweet), Moelleux (very sweet) and Liquoreaux (botrytized). Most can age about five years but the best quality versions will continue to improve over decades.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin Blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Somm Secret—Landing in South Africa in the mid 1800s, today the country has double the acreage of Chenin Blanc planted compared to France. There is also a new wave of dedicated producers committed to restoring old Chenin vines.