Frédéric Mabileau Hypnotic 2021
As subscribers already know (well, those that have the inclination to read my briefly weekly “what’s on Winedoctor this week” email do) this weekend past I celebrated the completion of yet another circuit around the sun.
How to celebrate such an auspicious (tongue firmly in cheek) occasion? Perhaps a Bacchanalian feast, at a select three-star restaurant, accompanied by all of London’s wine-writing glitterati, who will of course be only too willing to foot the bill? Or all-expenses-paid trip to Reims, where in one weekend I wash down a lifetime’s supply of imported Kunamoto oysters with Bollinger’s entire remaining stocks of the 1959 Extra Dry, coincidentally the same Champagne that featured in my 2020 Bordeaux at Two Years report? Or perhaps, mindful of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, a more modest celebration might be in order; what about a private dinner, just me and two pals named Jancis and Robert, during which we drink nothing other than jeroboams of 2003 Château Pavie, sent direct from the château’s private cellar?
Well, while I was offered all three (and if you believe that, I have a bridge you might be interested in buying…), I instead opted for a quiet weekend away in a Scottish country hotel, with a bottle of sparkling Pineau d’Aunis from Frédéric Mabileau. Well, 1959 Bollinger Extra Dry is a tad passé, don’t you think? After all, I’m not James Bond, who in any case preferred Rosé d’Anjou to the wines of Reims, a fact the Dom Pérignon set seem strangely only too ready to forget.
The domaine of Frédéric Mabileau is located in the little village of St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, which is of course home to every vigneron and every domaine which goes by the name Mabileau. Although from a long line of vignerons Fréd started out in an independent fashion in the early 1990s, first planting vines on land which belong to his wife Nathalie. They soon established a reputation for hard work and high quality; I remember visiting the cellars during the harvest, back in 2013, and witnessing first-hand Fréd’s meticulous approach to sorting and vinification.
In a cruel twist of fate Fréd was killed in an accident in 2020, long before his time, and these days the running of the domaine falls to Nathalie Mabileau and their two sons, Charly and Remy. They seem to be doing a pretty good job of it. One new direction they have since taken, even while still processing their family tragedy, concerns the fruit from their parcel of Pineau d’Aunis. Fruit from these vines, planted on white clay soils in 1983 and certified both organic and biodynamic, had previously been channelled into other cuvées, but in 2021 for the first time the family have produced this sparkling pétillant naturel cuvée, Hypnotic. The fruit was picked by hand, and the juice then cool-fermented by indigenous yeasts in vat, before bottling midway through the fermentation.
The 2021 Vin de France Hypnotic from Frédéric Mabileau is 100% Pineau d’Aunis, presented in clear glass bottle, and sealed with a crown cap. In the glass it has a charming pale pink hue, closer perhaps to onion skin or rose gold than it is to anything you might call ‘pink’. This appearance is matched by a fresh and fragrant nose, one perfumed with verbena and violets, with subtle seams of redcurrant, raspberry and peach. There then follows a voluminous palate, gently balanced, with a broad mousse supporting layers of fresh peach and redcurrant fruits, with floral nuances to match the nose, and some fabulously fresh acidity. It concludes with a lightly peppery twist – well, it is Pineau d’Aunis, after all – along with some fine floral fruit. It does feel clipped rather short in the finish, nevertheless length isn’t really what this pét nat cuvée is about. It is about fun and frivolity (and celebrating birthdays) and in that regard it hits the nail on the head. The alcohol on the label is a modest 12%. 92/100 (6/3/23)
Read more in:
- My guide to the wines of the Loire Valley
- My profile of Frédéric Mabileau
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