Jean-Pierre Robinot

Jean-Pierre Robinot

Jean-Pierre first discovered his love of wine when he was 22 years old with a bottle of Cheval Blanc 1964. From that moment on he was incredibly passionate, even obsessive, about wine. In the late 1980s he met Jules Chauvet and Marcel Lapierre — which changed his perception of wine and how it ought to be made. Soon thereafter he opened L’Ange Vin, one of Paris’ first natural wine bars. Next he created the magazine “Le Rouge et Le Blanc” with critic Michel Bettane when he was in his early 30s. “Le Rouge et Le Blanc” is a go-to source for 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 he was really going to understand natural wine was to begin making some himself. In 2001 he started his own winery in Chahaignes, his native village in the Loire. Initially this meant traveling from his wine bar in Paris to the winery whenever he had a free moment, which resulted in a cuvée he jokingly called “Cuvée TGV” after the high-speed train.

After his first vintage, Jean-Pierre decided to close his 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 or 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 wines often take a long time to ferment, generally 2 to 4 years, but sometimes even more. He doesn’t rush them, let’s rest in old oak barrels until fermentation is complete, fascinated by the process they each undergo. To the outsider, it may seem like total chaos, but he knows every barrel and the wine contained within each like the back of his hand.

Adding to the confusion, Robinot changes the labels on each wine every year, sometimes using his own paintings or those of his daughters, or manipulated photographs, but they’re always identifiable as uniquely his own.

Currently he makes two sets of wines: Domaine de L’Ange Vin from grapes grown on his own vineyards; and Opera du Vin from the grapes he purchases from nearby vignerons. Both he makes without sulphur or any other additions.