Château Pierre-Bise

There are many Loire Valley vignerons I have met and tasted with on numerous occasions, but I might have visited and tasted with Claude Papin, of Château Pierre-Bise, more often than any other. I can recall visiting him at the domaine in the little hamlet also named Pierre-Bise, and I can recall tasting with him and Vincent Ogereau at La Table de la Bergerie, hosted by Yves Guégniard, where I would join the trio for dinner, the evening usually involving pulling the corks on older bottles from all three domaines, including some of what might be regarded as Claude’s experimental cuvées.

My numerous meetings with Claude Papin (pictured below) stick in my mind perhaps because they could be so challenging and yet, at the same time, so thought-provoking and rewarding. It is not the language barrier, although I had to follow Claude’s words with a greater degree of concentration than I do some other vignerons, but rather his rich and multi-layered philosophies on viticulture, all of which are interwoven with a deep and considered knowledge of the many different terroirs which he works. It can be hard work, but a meeting with Claude will always leave you feeling enriched. And if you find his viticultural theories a little too confusing, you can always concentrate on simply tasting his wines. In recent years the style has become more honed, more pointed, with greater purity and brighter minerality, and the quality remains very high.

Château Pierre-Bise

Today the responsibility for running Château Pierre-Bise has been passed to Claude’s son, René Papin, although Claude’s presence can still be felt here. In this profile I look at all aspects of Claude and now René Papin’s work, in the vineyards and in the cellars, and also at their range of wines. Before that though I begin, as always, with what history I have been able to elicit for Château Pierre-Bise.


Château Pierre-Bise enjoys a fairly prominent position close to the Layon, and it is possible to spot its tall, pointed roof from various points along the river on both banks, including when standing among the vines of the Quarts de Chaume appellation. Claude tells me that the château itself dates to the 16th century, so there is certainly some history here, and in view of its position I am sure there has been active viticulture associated with the château for many years, perhaps even centuries. Elucidating the details of this history has, however, eluded me, and it is only during the 20th century that the story of Château Pierre-Bise begins.

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