Philip was born in Saint-Etienne and, as his father worked for a bank and was frequently moved from branch to branch, he saw quite a lot of France during his childhood. Philip then spent 25 years in Paris before setting up afone in Angers in 1999. He had a second home in Britrtany, so Angers was conveniently on the way.
Philip: "In 2005 I was introduced to Jo Pithon by Catherine and Gérard Bossé (then owners of Les Tonnelles and now Une Ile in Angers), who were good friends. Jo was in financial trouble and I agreed to buy 95% of Domaine Jo Pithon. Then following year I bought Château de Chamboreau from Pierre Soulez in 2006. We are now combining the two estates under one name – Domaine FL."
Fournier and Longchamps were the names of Philip's parents. The idea is to build Domaine FL up as a brand as a way of getting away from the generally poor image of Anjou, especially Anjou Blanc. At FL there are now 21 hectares south of Angers – the old Domaine Jo Pithon, which has been organic since 1997, while there are 18 hectares in Savennières – the old Château de Chamboreau, which has been in conversion since 2006 to organic culture. 88% of FL is planted with Chenin, 11% Cabernet Franc and just of 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, which will soon be grubbed up.
Hugues continues in charge of the vineyards and the wine-making at both properties. "We have changed the style of the wines," Hugues explained. "We want to make finer, more precise, fresher wines and to emphasise the fruit and to avoid an oxidative style. We want wines that are capable of aging better. I'm pragmatic and we now use more SO2 when necessary."
Over a very good dinner cooked by Gérard Bossé – very lightly poached oysters over a red cabbage salad, roasted scallops, perfectly cooked sandre de Loire (pike perche) with a delicious beurre blanc, and a rare fillet steak – we tasted a number of the FL wines. We started with the only finished wine of the evening – the quite rich and mineral 2007 Le Chenin Anjou Blanc. (11€ TTC from property). This new cuvée combines two Jo Pithon's old cuvées – Les Bergères and Les Pépinières. My preferred wines were the minerally 2008 Roches aux Moines Savennières (49€ for 2007), currently with decidedly marked acidity, and the richly textured 2006 Cabernet Franc, AC Anjou (16.50€). We finished with easily the least convincing wine of the evening – the 2007 Quarts de Chaume (35€ for 37.5cl). It lacked the precision of the other FL wines and, although not in bottle, is well below the standard of other 2007 Quarts de Chaumes made by other producers.
Domaine FL, 11 Place François Mitterand, 49100 Angers
More to follow.....