Guide to the Loire regions

Val du Loir

Producer profiles - Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir

Jean-Pierre Robinot (2001)

 
Jean-Pierre Robinot

An audience with Jean-Pierre Robinot is an exhausting experience. He runs around the tasting room, opening bottles, cracking jokes and speaking at the same pace as he moves. It’s all but impossible to keep up. The wines are as full of character and as non-conformist as the man himself. Robinot was born in the commune where we are standing – Chahaignes - although his family had nothing to do with wine. From 1989 he ran a wine bar in Paris, close to the Bourse, called Ange Vin, meaning ‘Angel Wine’, but also a play on words with Angevin, the name given to any one who originates from Anjou, which, ironically, Robinot doesn’t. He sold up to an English couple in 2001 and came back to Chahaignes to make wine. He was 52 years old, incidentally, the same age as Robert Mondavi was when he started his empire, but I think that’s where the comparison stops.

He rents a run down house on the edge of the village which doubles up as his tasting room and store room. At the side is a makeshift cuverie and at the rear a series of caves hewn into the rock. The place looks a shambles. Clearly appearance is of no concern to him. In the front room of the house is an old zinc bar, liberated from what is now Chez Miton in the village. He negotiated it into the deal along with the parcel of old vine Pineau d’Aunis he actually set out to buy.   

Wine Overview :
Since 2001, he has acquired six hectares of vineyards. In Chahaignes, he has three hectares in Rasné as well as vines behind the cellar in le Présidial. His Jasnières vines are in Sous-le-Bois and les Gargouilles. All the vineyards are worked to organic principles. In the cellar, apart from the odd red wine raised in tank, all the other wines are aged in mainly second hand François Frères barrels. This is where Robinot starts getting extreme. It is normal for him to age the wine in oak for up to four years, including his whites. He explains that he doesn’t like, and doesn’t want the primary aromas that wine offers when it goes into bottle. He wants to sell wine that has already been aged, and a long élevage in wood helps him to achieve that aim. He also makes the wines with little or no sulphur, perhaps adding a milligram or ten at the final racking, and without filtration. All of his wines go through malolactic fermentation.

His individual and unconventional approach means that he has not won many friends when it comes to submitting the wines for the obligatory appellation tastings, as the wines invariably fail, ‘lacking typicity’. Robinot has now all but given up trying to sell them under the appellation. He has worked hard finding a market, not just in France , but in Japan where he says the end customers love his natural approach to making wine.

Not content with making the wines, he also paints all the labels. Every wine carries a different painting, and these tell you as much about the man’s character as the contents of the bottle. There are two separate ranges produced, L’Opera des Vins’, used as a négociant label prior to 2006 at a time when he was still buying in fruit, and Le Vin d’Ange Vin, for his own vines. He has also dabbled with making a little Vouvray in the past.

 
Robinot paints all his own labels 

The Wines :
One can’t help liking the man and what he is trying to achieve with his wines. They are clearly different and bear little relation to what people think should be representative of the two appellations. But Robinot has a point when he says that he is working purely with grapes, not manipulating the vineyards with chemicals, and is only allowing the resulting wines to express themselves in the cellar. So who is to tell him that his wines are not typical when they are as close to natural as possible? The debate here is not about poor winemaking. The wines are not faulty - they might be edgy - but no one can deny they are not without interest.

The wines won’t be accepted by many people, but I recommend you search them out and taste them. Better still, taste them in situ in the presence of the man himself. You’ll be a richer person for the experience. 

2004 Jasnières ‘L’Opéra des Vins – Symphonie du Temps’
40 months in barrel. Bright. Yellow/gold. Deep, creamy. Different.... Rich and buttery, creamy and lactic, but also rich and mineral. Oak (unsurprisingly) shows, although this is only one component of all the others aspects to this wine. Rich and obvious and also quite phenolic. There is a hint of complexing volatility. Needless to say, this is atypical and individual. (12/08)

(2003 Jasnières) Vin de Table Blanc
18 months in barrel and on its lees. Very similar to the above. Rich, creamy and lactic. Smells distinctly ‘organic’. Drier, tauter and more mineral. Quite severe with a chalky, phenolic edge. This has more in common with white Burgundy that Jasnières. Good mineral thread. Atypical, but not without interest. (12/08)

(2003 Jasnières) ‘L’Opéra des Vins - Lumière de Silex’ Vin de Table Blanc
18 months in oak. Bright. Yellow/gold. Very good silex/reductive edge (Robinot says the reduction here comes from the lees contact rather than the soil). Flinty. The same rich and creamy texture to the palate. There is the influence of the wood, but good minerality behind. Dry and more austere. Nutty and autolytic. Drinking now, but will age. (12/08)

(2006) ‘Concerto D’Oniss’ Vin de Table Rouge
100% young vine Pineau d’Aunis. No SO2 used. Fermented by carbonic maceration in tank and a further 18 months in barrel. Dull orange/brown appearance. Mature, Pinot Noir look-alike. Very pure Pineau d’Aunis on the nose. Intense pepper and spice. ‘Organic’, but not savoury. A ‘natural’ yeasty flavour to the palate. Firm acidity and supple tannins. Powerful pepper and spice. Quite grippy and chalky. Dead yeast flavours to the finish. Floral, sous-bois and autumnal flavours. Despite all this it remains delicate. Good now, but will keep. Different and tastes like a naturally made wine. (12/08) 

(2007) ‘Les Vignes de L’Ange Vin - Le Regard du Loir’ Vin de Table Rouge
From Pineau d’Aunis. Only 7hl/ha yield. No wood here, just bottled from cuve after six months. Pale appearance. Almost rosé at the rim. High toned nose. Distinct VA with the pepper and spice on both the nose and palate. Bitter cherries. Pique. Nervous, mineral backbone with squeaky acidity. Too close to the edge, this one. Best drink soon. (12/08)

(2006) ‘Les Vignes de L’Ange Vin - Le Regard du Loir’ Vin de Table Rouge
Dull. Slightly deeper than above. Pinot Noir like appearance with good graduation to the rim. Less wild and volatile. Organic nose with some spice. Savoury and very attractive, complex nose. Very lively on the palate with good density. Mineral. Soft tannins and fresh acidity. Individual, but very good. Drinking now, but will age further. (12/08)

(2006) ‘Les Vignes de L’Ange Vin - Cuvée Nocturne’ Vin de Table Rouge
Raised for 18 months in wood. The wine is bottled, but the label isn’t yet painted.... Mid depth, ruby red. Wood shows a little on the nose. Faintly high toned, but within tolerance. Creamy, vanilla spice. Confectionary like aromas of cinnamon. The wood is evident on the palate and a bit planky. Good weight and density. Charcuterie comes to mind. Noticeable grainy tannins. Savoury and organic flavours. Tastes natural. Needs another year at least to settle down. Pepper and spice to the finish. Very good potential. (12/08)

(2005) ‘Les Vignes de L’Ange Vin - Cuvée Nocturne’ Vin de Table Rouge
From 100 year old Pineau d’Aunis vines. Bottled by hand after 36 months in barrel. Bright ruby red. Mid depth. Wood shows a little by the way of creamy, vanilla oak. Red fruits behind. Mid-full nose. Good weight and concentration. The wood appears to be drying this out a little. Dense, natural and well textured. Has a purity of red fruits. Less spicy. Approachable, but would benefit with time. Well structured with good length and juicy finish. Let’s hope the oak doesn’t dry it out before its prime. Best give this another year or two. (12/08)

(2005) ‘L’Ange Vin – Cuvée Camille’ Vin de Table Rouge
100% Pineau d’Aunis from the ‘heart’ of the parcel. It spent 36 months in wood (just three barrels) and was bottled by hand. Youthful dull red appearance. Black cherry jam nose. Very clean, with no sign of volatility. Rich on entry. The oak shows a little at this stage. Concentrated with a fine structure. Taut and mineral but with good flesh with more bitter cherry flavours to the finish. Squeaky tannins, but very supple. Excellent potential, but needs time. (12/08)

Jean-Pierre Robinot
Les Vignes de l’Ange vin
Le Présidial
Chahaignes
T/F: + 33 2 43 44 92 20
P: + 33 6 21 53 37 17
lesvignesdelangevin@orange.fr

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