CHÂTEAU PIERRE-BISE, Beaulieu sur Layon
Claude Papin took over his wife’s family property in 1990 and has since become a Loire icon. Andrew Jefford calls him a “poet of Chenin Blanc”, and Jancis Robinson MW “one of the most talented wine growers in this part of the world “.
His approach to Chenin could be summed up in his own words: “The Chenin is made by botrytization. If there isn’t any, it always makes hard wine. Even my dry wines are made with about 50% botrytization. This translates in the wine as honeyed notes.”
He now controls about 32 hectares, and his Chenin Blancs from Savennières, Quart de Chaume and Côteaux de Layon are textbook examples of why this grape is among the world’s greatest when produced from the terroir for which it is perfectly suited.
La Revue du Vin de France gives this winery two stars making it one of only three in the region to attain such status.
‘Most French regions have a philosopher-king in their midst; a grower who not only tends to his vines with great solicitude and vinifies his fruit with skill, but who asks the deep questions which others forget to pose, and who then teases out answers which will, sooner or later, lift the game for all.
Claude Papin performs this role for the central zone of the Loire – and not coincidentally overdelivers in all three on Anjou’s wine styles: red wines (from Anjou-Villages), dry whites (a range from different sites in both Savennières and Anjou-Villages) and sweet wines (from Coteaux du Layon and Quarts de Chaume). The range is large and complex, and Papin goes to extraordinary lengths to give voice to every nuance of which they are capable.
But whatever the appelation and price point, this magnificent domaine will leave you with an intimate understanding of Anjou’s extraordinary intricacy and richness.’
Decanter February 2012 ‘Top 10 French Estate for value’
Anjou ‘Haut de la Garde’ is made from Chenin grown on a North to North-West facing plot, with mixed soil types including schist, sandstone and silica. As with most of Claude Papin’s wines, the grapes are harvested when totally ripe and when botrytis has started to develop. The result is a mind-boggling, amber-coloured, concentrated but perfectly balanced wine. The nose opens up with ripe quince, honey, green apple, it leads to a richly textured, plush palate of pear, exotic fruit and light spices with lots of minerality. The racy acidity balances out the richness of the fruit to perfection.