Francois Pinon inherited his domaine from his father in 1987 and has, over the last 20 years, become widely recognized as one of the top producers in Vouvray. Francois’ goal is simple: to maintain the character of the appellation and of the vintage. The vineyards at Pinon are in the corniche of the Vallée de Cousse. The soil here is clay and silica on a base of limestone (tuffeau) with flint (silex) and the area is rated among the top sites in the appellation for Vouvrays of distinction and long life. Pinon works organically; he plows the vineyards, does not use chemical fertilizers and pesticides and, of course, he harvests by hand and uses no cultured yeasts. All new plantings are done by massale selection and no nursery clones are used; the vines are an average of 25 years old. He is slowly moving towards organic certification with confidence that these methods produce the finest fruit. Primary fermentation occurs in wood barrels. Then the wines are aged in stainless-steel or foudres to obtain a balance between fruit and reduction. There is one racking to remove the heavy lees and the wine remains on its fine lees until bottling, which takes place a full year after the harvest. Rather than use a large dose of SO2, Pinon prefers to filter his wines to insure their stability and aging potential.
Many producers in Vouvray make sparkling wines but Pinon’s Brut, made from 100% Chenin Blanc in the methode champenoise, stands out. There is a surprising level of depth and richness as well as a firm backbone of acidity and minerality. This is an excellent dry aparkler. Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, May/Jun 10 Light, bright gold. Deeper and muskier than the no-dosage version, showing dried pear, fig and pungent herbal qualities and subtle minerality. Broad, palate-coating orchard and pit fruit flavors are quite lush and accessible, offering building richness and gentle back-end grip. Finishes with good punch and lingering spiciness. 89 points