After working a stint with Leon Barral in the Languedoc, 21 year old Jonathan-Didier Pabiot returned to his family domaine in Pouilly-Fumé with a passion for organic viticulture and strong ideas for the future. Jonathan's father Didier — a 4th generation vigneron in Les Loges — was not easily persuaded of this new, natural path forward, but he nevertheless gave Jonathan-Didier 1.5 hectares of vines that were planted by his grandfather. Jonathan-Didier found an additional 1.5 hectares to rent (vines he later purchased) and immediately converted all three hectares to organic viticulture. From these vines he crafted the much sought-after, top cuvées of Prédeliction and Eurythmie. This fine debut created early whispers that Jonathan was among those who would push the limits of quality in Pouilly-Fumé, much like the late, great Didier Dagueneau had done several decades earlier.
It took only 6 months for Didier Pabiot to see the results of his son's organic approach in the vineyards. He decided to follow Jonathon's lead and began organic conversion of his 17 hectares of vines. The father-son duo joined forces in 2010, with all 20 combined hectares now in full organic certification. The Pabiot vineyards are among the most lush, lively and vibrant one will ever see. They are one of only three organic growers out of 120 domaines in Pouilly-Fumé. While many of their friends and neighbors are plagued by disease in their vineyards, Pabiot's vines remain healthy and equipped to resist the many threats present in such an inhospitable growing climate. Never to rest on their laurels, in 2016 Pabiot became the first certified Biodynamic (Demeter) domaine in Pouilly-Fumé. They firmly believe the influence of their BD preparations are further strengthening the vines and the overall health of their diverse and dynamic terroirs.
The vines average 30 years of age, and are planted very densely at 10,000 vines per hectare! Outside of Burgundy and a few select locations, this density is quite rare in the wine world. Jonathan works the soils to encourage deep rooting. He passes with his tractor three to five times annually and then allows grass to grow between rows at the end of summer as harvest approaches. He de-buds in the springtime — a technique of removing certain buds to increase quality and concentration in the remaining ones — though he does not do a green harvest. Upon harvesting by hand, the vines yield an average of 30 hectoliters per hectare.
In the cellar, Pabiot eschews added yeasts or enzymes, and thanks to the health and quality of his raw material, uses minimal sulphur additions. The grapes are carefully hand-sorted, followed by slow fermentations with indigenous yeasts at low temperatures. Depending on the wine, fermentation and aging are mainly in stainless steel and concrete, alongside neutral oak and ceramic amphorae.
Jonathan's wife Nina, a native German who speaks perfect French and English, manages the commercial side of the business. Two of the domaine's bottlings are named after their children, Léon and Elisa, further articulating that Domaine Pabiot is truly a family affair.
The entry-level Pouilly-Fumé Elisa, previously knowns as Prélude, is made from young vines spanning the family's three primary soil types: limestone, silica and flint. Thanks to shrewd yields, an uncompromising approach in the vineyard, and lees aging over the winter months, this early bird bottling punches well above its weight class. Next in the lineup is the cuvée Léon, previously known as Florilège. Made from mature vines rooted in all three soil types, Florilège is the Domaine’s flagship Pouilly-Fumé and is truly a a statement wine, revealing a level of texture and length seldom seen at this price point in the region.
With the top-tier Prédilection bottling, the old vines in terraced terres blanches vineyards are given a chance to shine. In addition to Dagueneau's top cuvées from the neighboring village of Saint Andelain, this is one of the most exciting Pouilly-Fumé wines we have had the pleasure of drinking — a pure and translucent translation of one of the region’s great terroirs, resonating electric energy and mineral nuance.
Jonathan-Didier Pabiot is a quiet force in the Loire whose work is evident in his expressive, transparent Pouilly-Fumés. His unwavering commitment to natural viticulture and detailed dedication in the cellar serve as an example to his father's generation, his peers, and the generations that follow.