Rage against the machine-harvesting

Rage against the machine-harvesting
We love Chablis, proper Chablis that is, but too much of it is over-cropped and picked without any thought for quality. It’s the result of a purely mechanical, commercially-driven process. Thomas Pico of Domaine Pattes Loup is the antithesis of this automated approach. In our view he is producing some of the most thrilling, hand-crafted Chablis there is. We were delighted to start working with him earlier this year. Last week we had the pleasure of revisiting a bottle of his 2015 Butteaux – the team described it as “electrifying.” This textured, complex, pin-point precise Chablis is delicious now; equally it will keep in the cellar happily for a couple of years.

Growing up surrounded by a vigneron father and grandfather, Thomas Pico discovered a passion for vine-growing at an early age. After completing his viticulture and oenology studies in Beaune, he returned to the family Domaine, Bois d’Yver, in 2004. In 2005 Thomas took back 8 ha of vines from Bois d’Yver and also began planting his own vines on the lieu-dit Pattes Loup, after which his domaine is named. Today, based in the village of Courgis, Thomas farms 25 hectares of vines organically. A meticulous, nature-first approach in the vineyard, together with a style of thoughtful, unrushed winemaking unique in Chablis, makes for some of the most complex, pure and lively wines in the region. The Domaine was certified organic in 2009 and now farms bio-dynamically. The wines are fermented and aged in a mixture of used oak fut, demi-muid, concrete and steel tank depending on the cuvée and vintage. They undergo a long, slow ageing of up to 30 months, again depending on vintage and cuvée, before bottling. Butteaux “Mise Tardive” is a late bottling that spends a year in used oak fut and two years in tank.

It has won high critical acclaim, too, notably from the Wine Advocate’s William Kelley:

“The 2015 Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux Mise Tardive was due to be bottled a few weeks after I tasted it and represents half of Pico's production from this superb Left Bank premier cru that he matured for an extended period on the lees—in tank after fermentation in neutral wood, both barrels and demi-muids. This is a wine I've tasted multiple times over the last couple of years, and it's always arrestingly good, bursting with aromas of dried flowers, citrus confit, honeycomb and smoky apples. On the palate, it's incredibly satiny, multidimensional and deep, with stunning energy and cut despite its long élevage, concluding with a long, sapid finish. Scoring a wine like this presents a challenge, as it occupies its own aesthetic universe, but I can only salute its striking originality and visceral deliciousness, adding that I can't wait to add a few bottles to my own cellar.” 94/96 points, William Kelley, Wine Advocate