Guide to the Loire regions

Châteaumeillant

Grower Profiles

Domaine du Chaillot
Picot is an old Berrichon name and Pierre ’s ancestors have farmed the prairies around Dun-sur-Auron, just south of Bourges , for over 300 years. But this is not wine country; these plains are suited only for cereals - sunflowers, wheat, corn and rapeseed - and the raising of Charolais cattle.

Pierre Picot was born on the family farm in Bussy in 1959. The youngest of three children and clearly bright, he studied overseas (where he learnt to speak impeccable English) before returning to the family business. In looking for new opportunities, he toured nearby Quincy but found nothing to buy, before visiting a family friend in Vesdun, a village to the extreme east of the Châteaumeillant appellation. Here he discovered a 17 hectare mixed agriculture farm that had been previously planted to vines. He bought Le Chaillot and planted one hectare of Gamay whilst working a stage in Sancerre to gain some winemaking experience. Picot harvested his first crop in 1993, making the wine in one of the farm’s outbuildings. He still lives at the family farm some 50 kilometres north of Vesdun, which explains the address at the bottom of the page, but he has a full time employee who lives in the old farmhouse at Le Chaillot.

Despite being an outsider, he is very highly respected by the other growers in the region and has for the past five years been President of the growers' syndicat, becoming instrumental in negotiating with the INAO in discussions to elevate the appellation from its current V.D.Q.S. status. On a personal level, Picot believes that whilst it is necessary for Châteaumeillant to receive AC status, the name of the domaine and his own reputation are more important.

OVERVIEW:
For the first three vintages Picot worked solely with the lone hectare of vines he planted in the late 1980s. He now owns 8.5 hectares over three sites: the original Le Chaillot vineyard has been expanded and a further parcel, La Croix de l’Hommée some three kilometres away has been added. In addition to this, Picot has planted another vineyard two kilometres further south - but over the departmental Cher boundary - in Allier. Le Chataignier Sou has also been planted to Gamay, but also ‘out of curiosity’ to seven ares of Tressallier, an ancient Bourbonnais variety, perhaps better known elsewhere as Sacy, harvested for the first time in 2008.  

With the exception of the Tressalier and nine ares of Chardonnay planted at Le Chaillot, all of Picots red wines are made from Gamay. Here he holds different views to his peers. Despite being a newcomer, he believes in maintaining the tradition of the appellation, and perpetuating the planting of Gamay. He states that the micraschiste (granular gravel soils derived from granite subsoils) are the same as can be found on the hills of Beaujolais, and that the calcaire-loving Pinot Noir has no place on these slopes.

THE WINES:
From the original farm shed where he vinified his first harvest in 1993, Picot has been adding onto the cellar in stages as his vineyards holdings have grown, the latest in time for the 2008 harvest. All the grapes here are picked by hand and fermentation is conducted in fibre glass tanks. Demand for his wines is high and they tend to disappear as soon as he has bottled them. Three quarters of the production is sold domestically, although he has an important market in Holland.

From the 2008 harvest, Picot will produce six different wines, three of which are under the Châteaumeillant appellation. There is the ubiquitous gris and two reds: a generic label and ‘Parenthèse’, from grapes sourced exclusively from Le Chaillot. The method of production remains the same for both. The other cuvées are all Vin de Pays: ‘Nuit Blanche’ is from Chardonnay first harvested in 2005, and there is a partner Vin du Pays de Loire red, made exclusively from Gamay. The final wine will be the Tressallier which is to be sold as ‘Sainte-Agathe’ named after a local mountain, as Vin de Pays de l’Allier.    

Pierre Picot
Domaine du Chaillot
Place de la Tounoise
Dun-sur-Auron
T: + 33 2 48 59 57 69
F: + 33 2 48 59 58 78
Pierre.picot@wanadoo.fr
www.domaine.du.chaillot.free.fr



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