Jean-Pierre first discovered his love of wine when he was 22 years old with a bottle of Cheval Blanc 1964 and from that moment on he became incredibly passionate, even obsessive about wine. In the late 1980s, Jean-Pierre met Jules Chauvet and Marcel Lapierre which offered him a moment of wine revelation.
Soon after, he opened L’Ange Vin, which became one of Paris’ first natural wine bars. He then went on to create the magazine “Le Rouge et Blanc” with critic Michel Bettane vin his early 30’s. “Le Rouge et Blanc” has become an internationally renowned, “bible” of information on natural wine growers in France.
After 12 years of running the wine bar and the magazine, Jean-Pierre decided that the only way to truly understand natural wine was to begin making it himself. In 2001, he started his own winery in Chahaignes, his native village in the Loire. At the time he was still running his wine bar in Paris, so the wine could only be made during rare free moments where he would sip between Paris and the Loire on the train. His early creation, “Cuvée TGV”, is jokingly named after the high speed train he took during this time.
After this first vintage, Jean-Pierre made the decision to close the restaurant and move his family to Chahaignes. He quickly began to acquire plots of land surrounding his home and planting vines of Pineau d’Aunis, Chenin Blanc and Gamay. He also owns and rents five different cellars that are carved into the hills around his winery, each containing dozens of barrels in various states of fermentation.
Robinot’s wine can take a long time to ferment, generally 2 to 4 years, but often even more. He believes in letting wines stay in their old oak barrels until fermentation is complete. Robinot operates under a “no rush” mentality and is fascinated by the changes the wines go through during this time. To the outsider Robinot’s process may seem like total chaos, but he is certainly the master of chaos knowing exact information about every barrel and bottle. Adding to the confusion, the labels on each wine are changed every year. The labels are frequently his or his daughter’s paintings or manipulated photographs, and are always identifiable as Robinot’s.
He currently makes two different lines that are both made without sulphur or any other interventions. Domaine de L’Ange Vin wines are made from grapes grown in his own vineyards, and Opera du Vin wines that are made from the grapes he purchases from nearby vignerons.
Watch the episode on Jean-Pierre Robinot in our “Portraits of Winemakers” docu-series!
– Zev Rovine Selections