Schneider's of Capitol Hill is a great shop, and they do a fabulous job in all departments. What endears them most to my heart is their fantastic selection of closeouts. Schneider's provides a great service to the wine drinking public by investing thousands of dollars in good but unpopular wines that distributors are keen to unload, and then selling them for a song. Not that they are saints or anything -- I am sure they make a healthy profit, but hey, I usually end up happy in the end. I'm afraid that my latest find, the Jo Pithon Les Pepinieres '05, though tasty, is a little bittersweet.
Jo Pithon, owner of the eponymous estate, is a really nice guy. I met him several times over the years at the wine shop, when he was visiting town for trade shows. Jo is a big, open, genial man, and he sports a pair of the most kick-ass mutton chops you've ever seen. Most importantly, he was willing to field questions from a 23 year old kid without rolling his eyes, which is not something that can be said of all producers. Jo made many great wines at his estate in Anjou out of the native Chenin Blanc, but they were always a bit pricey. Imagine my surprise last week when I saw the previously mentioned Pepinieres, normally a $25 wine, stamped at a mere $9.99. When I asked the staff about this, I learned the sad news that Pithon had lost his investors, and that the brand is no more. Being shocked and saddened by the news, I picked up several bottles to assuage my grief.
The Pepinieres is a little on the old side (as is often the case with these sorts of closeouts), but that works towards it's advantage. The wine pours a pretty, clear, goldenrod yellow. The nose is has a pleasant nutty quality, along with melon and pear, and a rich, old whisky quality. The attack is surprisingly steely for a five year old wine, carrying with it flavors of raisins, butter, stones, and honey. A full, straw and lemon flavored middle leads to a dry, lemony, and slightly acetic finish. The combination of high acidity and rich, old-wine flavors make this wine very versatile. Try it with cold pasta, fried fish, or as an accompaniment to cheese and charcuterie.
Again, this wine used to sell for about $25, and despite the extra age, is still quite the bargain at $9.99. Schneider's had about 40 cases left as of last Friday, so don't expect it to last long. As is the case with any older white wine, you have to expect a few off bottles; though, I am happy to say all three that I purchased were quite satisfactory.
I am sorry to have heard that Jo Pithon has fallen on hard times, and sincerely hope he soon gets himself back in the game. In the meantime, at least I have a good white wine with which to welcome the warmer weather.