The Layon, a tributary of the Loire, is not much more than a stream. It’s a steep, tightly-winding river and tends to attract mist and fog in autumn – perfect conditions for botrytis, the “noble rot” which creates the world’s most sought-after dessert wines. Larger than life, jovial, bear-like, bushy sideburn-ed Jo Pithon is famous for his dessert wines made from Chenin Blanc affected by the noble rot. Many believe Chenin to be France’s finest white wine grape. You can sometimes find hints of marmalade, coconuts, dried pineapple and even truffle in the nose. The highly-strung Chenin acidity stops the wine from ever being cloying, also giving it long ageing potential. The Bonnes Blanches 2004 is dizzily complex and intense.
Jo has recently branched out and has also been making some serious dry Chenin Blanc under the Anjou appellation.
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