Thomas Pico was born and raised in Courgis, the village where he lives and works, leaving only to study viticulture and enology in Beaune. He returned in 2004, establishing Domaine Pattes Loup a year later with eight hectares of vines inherited from his family, and he soon won a richly deserved reputation as one of the brightest rising stars in Chablis’s firmament. Pattes Loup is something of an outlier in Courgis: aside from the Pico family, the only other vignerons in the village to bottle their wines themselves are Thomas’s mentors Alice and Olivier de Moor; the others sell in bulk to négociants. And Thomas also stands out within Chablis more generally, thanks to his decision—following in the footsteps of the de Moors—to farm his vineyards organically and harvest by hand. Biodynamic certification, a challenge few dare to attempt in Chablis, came in 2009. His parcels stand out for their fluffy, tilled soil in a region where vineyards all too frequently still resemble a sterile moonscape. Pico’s priority is to achieve moderate yields and full maturity. He picks rather later than most of his neighbors, judging the moment to harvest by flavor and appearance rather than laboratory analyses. Fermentation occurs in neutral wood, concrete and stainless steel, varying—like its duration—by cuvée and vintage. And the trend to longer and longer maturation on the lees continues, facilitated by new material: most recently an impressive array of new foudres. That approach worked wonders in 2018, resulting in levels of texture and concentration that transcend the vintage; and it also delivered superb results in 2017, a vintage that gets my nod as Pico’s finest since his outstanding 2015s. In addition to the Chablis reviewed here, readers will find a collaborative Irancy produced by Pico and a few friends reviewed under “Les Pinots Blacks.”
The palate is crisp and saline on the entry, well balanced with good depth, a touch of lemongrass enhancing the lively finish. This is a brisk and delicious Chablis Village from Thomas Pico.