Thomas Pico’s wines strike perhaps Chablis' uncanniest convergence of typicality and stylistic uniqueness. At their best the wines locate a ‘nowhere-but-Chablis’ strain and yet render this strain within a stylized, highly individual framework. Tasting the domaine's ’Vaillons’ and ‘Butteaux’ together illustrates the point. Despite their close proximity the two vineyards individuate strongly and consistently, Pico’s stylized brushwork managing to dilate rather than dilute terroir expression.
I find the ‘Butteaux’ hillside, including neighboring lieu-dits 'Forêt' and 'Montmains,' the most consistent in the region. In cool vintages it sources a classic cuvée, denser than most yet fresh and saline. The glory of ‘Butteaux’ though is most felt in relatively warm and dry vintages where the vineyard's deep clay soil and cool, exposed hillside can yield wines of astonishing completeness. Isabelle Raveneau shared the same once pouring us her 2018 ‘Butteaux.' The purity of fruit and textural sophistication of that wine...
Élévage at Pattes Loup has trended longer and leesier over the past decade in consensus with the region’s other top producers. Picking has also become later, perhaps paradoxical at first but less so when remembering how oak aging in Chablis tends to slim down and refine rather than widen wines. Like other Chablis producers pursuing the late picking/long aging programme (Dauvissat, Raveneau, Julien Brocard) the textural profile on the other side is wonderfully spherical, the wines retaining plenty of freshness to support their more developed and suppler middles.
Back vintages here have become quite difficult and so a fun opportunity to stash a little vertical for peak-summer drinking.