Pithon-Paillé Anjou Blanc Coteau des Treilles 2008
Having finished with Bordeaux 2010 last week it is time to switch back to the Loire now, and sometime in the next few weeks I will be focusing on the 2010 vintage for this region with my Loire 2010 vintage report. This will be in a very similar style to the 2005 Loire report I published in January this year, which was in fact a trial run for more regular Loire reports of this sort of nature. After 2010 I will provide some contrast with the 2009 vintage, and then perhaps a small 2003 Loire retrospective is due. In the meantime though, I do need to continue with my tasting notes, domaine updates and new profiles from my visit to the Loire earlier this year. And, prompted by the enjoyment that came out of this bottle of Anjou Blanc over the weekend, I thought I would start with Pithon-Paillé. Tomorrow, an update on their latest releases; for today though I will stick to this superb wine, the 2008 Coteau des Treilles.
The Coteau des Treilles is a special site, pictured above, upon which I have already written much in my Pithon-Paillé profile. To cut a long story short, it is a steep (the gradient reaches 70% in places) south-facing slope on the right bank of Layon, very close to St Lambert du Lattay. Exploration amongst the grasses at the top of the slope would suggest that it was once, in the immediate post-phylloxera period, planted with resistant American varieties rather than the louse-sensitive vitis vinifera, as rather weedy-looking, long-lost descendants of these vines now grow wild among the wild grasses and other vegetation. What I saw were likely to have been vitis labrusca or vitis riparia, two of the more commonly encountered American types, although beyond that I am lost – I am certainly no ampelographer! Having said that, only last week I spotted American vines planted alongside Syrah and Marsanne on the hill of Hermitage, establishing their roots in situ before the vitis vinifera is grafted on once the vine is well established, so distinguishing American vines from vinifera is actually not that difficult. But knowing exactly which American vine, or which vitis vinifera, is rather more challenging!
Today the slope of the Coteau des Treilles is in the possession of Pithon-Paillé, Jo Pithon having acquired it piecemeal fashion, purchasing one-by-one more than 70 separate parcels from over 25 different growers. He has 7 hectares all told, of which 5 hectares are said to be suitable for planting vines. Of these 2.7 hectares are currently planted with a mix of established vines, young vines that have only borne fruit in the past year or two, and some vines planted on their own roots rather than grafted onto phylloxera-resistant American rootstock and which are. sadly, not fairing that well (as can be seen in the image above – that middle section is nowhere near as green as it should be). When I last met up with Wendy Paillé earlier this year she revealed that the main project for Pithon-Paillé in 2011 is a return to planting on the Coteau des Treilles. I was glad to hear this; it is a precious site and it deserves to be fully and properly exploited. Plus, more vines will mean more of the delicious Coteau des Treilles to go around. They have started by planting 1500 vines, replacing ungrafted vines, and they aim to replace all the dead material before moving on to plant up any new areas.
Pulling a bottle from my cellar, I was surprised to see it has been over a year since I last tasted this wine. This bottle is in fact the first from my personal stash, every other encounter having been at the domaine, or at the Salon in Angers. There has certainly been some development here. It has quite a confident golden hue in the glass which suggests warmth and concentration. Aromatically this is very firm and expressive, the rich pear and apple fruit very nicely polished, and the fruit rather golden and richer now, the citrus elements replaced by scents more reminiscent of honeyed apples, along with gingerbread, fennel and almonds. It remains coolly composed on the palate despite that warm appearance, although it shows a much deeper grip than I recall. It has a glorious substance, very bold and impressive, with a great grip and very solid, tangible texture and structure. What fruit it has is pithy and dry, any citrus elements now bitter and pithy, other flavours more like fruit skin, peach in particular. It all works together rather well, leading into a rather tight and muscular finish. Good length to it. This seems less ethereal than I recall, but the quality is still high; in style it reminds me somewhat of Richard Leroy’s wines, whereas I wouldn’t have said that a year or two ago. Overall, this is very good; I’m looking forward to future bottles, and future vintages, of this one. 17/20 (9/5/11)