Pithon-Paillé Anjou Blanc Mozaïk 2009
Life goes on hold during the immediate post-primeurs period. I spent eight days in Bordeaux and tasted close to 400 wines from the 2014 vintage. In the course of doing so I visited 47 different châteaux and I have chewed the cud of the vintage with nearly as many vineyard managers, winemakers and oenologues. It is this latter point that I feel is most significant, as it is these discussions that facilitate the detailed reports I have hammered Winedoctor subscribers with since my return. These reports are more than just a list of picking dates (which anyone can obtain from the promotional literature the châteaux readily hand out) but provide detail from the coal face on what the year was like in the vines, when the problems occurred, which terroirs triumphed over others, and so on. In three weeks I have added 46,000 words of reports and analysis to Winedoctor. Now, at the end of it all, I am at last free to write about something else. Phew!
So this week we have a little more of a Bordeaux–Loire balance on Winedoctor, and pushing the weighting towards the Loire today we have this bottle from Pithon-Paillé. Fans of the domaine will surely be familiar with this cuvée, which is the entry-level Anjou Blanc, renamed Mozaïk in the 2009 vintage. It is usually made entirely from négociant fruit, all grown to the specifications laid down by Jo Pithon, naturally. The terroir of origin is half limestone and half schist, so it truly encompasses everything Anjou has to offer, and cork-haters will be glad to know that ever since a 2009 experiment, when the cuvée was bottled half under cork and half under screwcap, the entire production is bottled under screwcap.
Looking across the range of wines at Pithon-Paillé the cuvée I am most familiar with is Coteaux des Treilles, partly because I have some older vintages tucked away in the cellar, but not least because last year Jo Pithon and family put on a very informative Coteau des Treilles vertical tasting, stretching from a 2013 barrel sample all the way back to the 2004 vintage. That cuvée is, of course, built for the cellar. Mozaïk, meanwhile, being made from négoce fruit and sealed with screwcap, sends out a ‘drink me now’ message. So what else is a hopeless refusenik like me supposed to do other than put one away in the cellar for six years? I should point out, by the way, that before using the word refusenik I did a quick search online to double-check its meaning, and the words and images most associated with it seemed to concern being middle-aged, grey-haired and a wine drinker. Ahem. Well, obviously only the last one applies to me.
In the bottle the 2009 Anjou Blanc Mozaïk from Pithon-Paillé looks to be crystal-clear, save for a single small sheet of clustered sediment which has an unusually appetising resemblance to a piece of brandy snap biscuit. With a twist of the screwcap the wine is released, and in the glass it has a polished hue, not the simple yellow-gold of a young wine, but one tinged with a hint of onion skin. There follows a fascinating exploration of aromas; at first it seems all over the place, but with a little air it becomes better defined, although still rather eclectic and very typical of Anjou Chenin Blanc. This would have benefitted, believe it or not, from an hour or two in a decanter before drinking. The fruit takes a back seat although it is still present, in a lightly macerated form, more savoury but also rather crystalline in character lending it an appealing freshness. Alongside, though, are the nuances of nascent maturity, with some funky notes of straw and iodine communicating the wine’s evolution. The palate is fresh and lively still, showing a little gras to the texture, with some lightly bitter edges to the fruit, and the same funky notes as found on the nose, backed up by some lightly minerally seams. The overall character is nicely rounded, with a very well integrated composition. In the end, this experiment has produced a good result, a very convincing wine which for an entry-level blend imprisoned beneath a screwcap for the last six years has turned out very well indeed. 16/20 (27/4/15)
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