Château Pierre-Bise, 2015 Update

Claude Papin was one of the first vignerons I visited in Anjou. In fact, if I recall correctly, he was the first. We enjoyed a long chat at his kitchen table before going out to check out his vines, although I am embarrassed to admit that looking back I have no idea which of his many parcels we visited; in my defence (m’lud) it was a long time ago and I wasn’t taking notes. Then we returned to his cellars for a tasting, and I bought a few bottles, some of which – decades later – I still have tucked away in the cellar. Not many, admittedly, but more than one or two.

In the years that have passed Claude has honed his winemaking down to a fine-boned, mineral-tipped point. His wines have the most precise and elegantly structured style that you can find emanating from the schistous slopes of Anjou. In their absolute youth (and I am talking when they are months old, sometimes before the malolactic, certainly a long time before bottling) his many cuvées of Anjou Blanc and Savennières have the purity of rainwater, but the structure of a shard of slate, a backbone of sharp, crystalline stone. Once in bottle they show a little more softness and approachability, no bad thing such is their challenging nature in youth, but still with that lovely purity. With age they show texture, vibrancy and complexity. This is true of the dry wines at least; for the sweet wines, Coteaux du Layon, Coteaux du Layon Premier Cru Chaume and Quarts de Chaume, wrap all this up in the flavour complexity of botrytis and the residual sugar it brings, and you have the Papin style.

Château Pierre-Bise

This most recent tasting of Claude Papin’s wines, tasted with one of his two sons René Papin (both René and Christophe are increasingly running the domaine today) did not stray far from my previous experiences. Even in more challenging vintages such as 2011, 2012 and 2013, the range of wines offered here is very strong.

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