Les Vignes de l’Ange VinCogito Wines2022-09-21T07:30:40+00:00
LES VIGNES DE L’ANGE VIN
Jean-Pierre is an iconic Loire winemaker, in the caliber who makes you rediscover a grape variety or a wine region. A tireless character with the vitality of a teenager, Jean-Pierre fell in love with wine from an early age and ultimately, became obsessed with wine. He moved to Paris, paving way for the first natural wine bar in the city with his establishment “L’Ange Vin”. In his early 30’s, together with the critic Michel Bettane, they founded one of the most influential wine magazines in France, “Le Rouge et le Blanc”. It is a veritable ‘bible’ of information on natural winemakers in France. After 12 years of running the wine bar and magazine, Jean-Pierre realized that the only way to truly understand ‘natural wine’ was to start making it himself. In 2000, he returned to settle down in the village of Chahaignes, where he grew up located in the North of the Loire.
The grape varieties grown at Les Vignes de l’Ange Vin are Chenin Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis. Two indigenous grape varieties, both are fragile. Chenin Blanc, a white variety, has a marked acidity, a very fragrant profile, and a propensity to be attacked by botrytis cinerea (noble rot). More difficult to express in its youth, Chenin Blanc has a great aging potential. The latter variety is a historical red variety of this territory but today practically unknown to most consumers. Pineau d’Aunis tastes similar to Pinot Noir (no genetic link) but is spicier and more herbal.
The soil of the Vigne de l’Ange vineyards are mainly composed of different concentrations of red clay, silica and limestone. From the start, Jean Pierre decided to adopt biodynamic approach in agriculture, using strictly natural preparations obtained directly from the earth. The vines are treated with infusions of wild plants such as nettles and ferns. Member of the association of Vins S.A.I.N.S., Jean-Pierre currently produces two different lines; ‘Domaine de L’Ange Vin’ wines are made from grapes grown in his own vineyards, and ‘L’Opéra des Vins’ wines are made from grapes he buys from neighbouring winemakers.
Adding to the confusion, the label of each wine changes every year. The picture of the labels is frequently his or his daughter’s paintings or manipulated photographs and are a charismatic visual identity of Robinot’s wines.
He also owns and rents out seven different caves dug into the limestone hills around his winery, each containing dozens of barrels in various stages of fermentation. Visiting the cellars is a real attraction. The entrances are secured by old gates with antique keys. Each cellar has a specific purpose. One for vinification, one for storing tools, one for storing bottles of pet nats… and deep in the cellars are old barrels containing the precious liquid. “Those cellars were dug in the 15th, 16th, 17th century. Because they are dug directly into limestone, they maintain a natural air cooling. In summer when it is 30, 40 °c outside, the temperature stays at 12°c down here. And thus the fermentations are very slow, the malolactic occurs 7 or 8 months later.”
All of his wines ferment naturally and Jean-Pierre is a patient man, letting them rest on the lees in barrels until he is satisfied and are ready. Fermentation takes place very slowly (almost for a year) and aging can sometimes take five years or more! Everything is done in old used barrels that rest in the damp cellars of the property. In the caves, the different personalities of his Chenin Blancs were distinguishable just by tasting from the barrels; Charme is more mineral than Iris which is riper and rounder. We tasted a whole range of whites ranging from acidity to oxidative notes, crossing the aromas of ripe fruit, salt, spices, roots and the notes of noble rot. Regarding his Pineau d’Aunis, the difference in complexity is due to the plots and the age of the vines; the Lumière des Sens vineyards are 40 years old and those of Camille are over a century old. They are very long and ardent wines, fascinating reds that makes us hard to break away from them.