Unlike the region of last week, the Loire does take place on my inner wine drinker map, but somehow I never started to deal with it more. And so it happens that so far quite little wine on the blog has been made from grapes from the Loire, and Chenin Blanc has not yet appeared here at all. With over 70,000 hectares of vineyards on over 1000 kilometers of length, the Loire has the advantage of being a perfect area for exploring. And as always with wine, the most obvious way to approach it is learning by drinking. This time we landed in Anjou at the Domain Pithon-Paillé and as already mentioned with Chenin Blanc. Similar to Riesling, Chenin Blanc can be used to make anything from sparkling wine to sweet wine. The Domaine Pithon-Paillé relies on organic viticulture with a lot of manual labor, little intervention and time. There is little use of sulfur and everything is fermented spontaneously. This is almost always the case with the wines I describe here, but I always like to say it anyway. The Pierrebise that we have in the glass this time is demi-sec, so equipped with a bit of residual sweetness. The wine is first aged a year in wooden barrels and then another 6 months in tanks before it is filled into the bottles and since we drink vintage 2015 it has also accumulated a few years of bottle maturity.
Immediately after pulling the cork, relatively little happens. Some volatile acidity, a bit of glue and a very small bit of fruit in the background. The volatile aroma also manages to jump onto the tongue at the first sip, but then disappears. Even in the first few moments, the wine becomes spicier and fuller with air and gets a pretty great herbaceousness on the tongue. The residual sugar helps balance this and lingers with the herbs for quite some time. Most of the slightly pungent acidity airs away pretty quickly and is replaced by more fruit. Everything is a bit diffuse and in flux, pears perhaps and other pome fruit. On the tongue you now have some creaminess, but then also citrus and out the back the herbal spice gets more and more intense, which then just sticks to the palate. The sweetness is perfectly integrated and rounds everything off. This is already amazing on the first evening.
Overnight, the wine gains texture. Both on the nose and on the tongue. The stone fruit becomes even more intense and clear. Apple, pear, something exotic is also present and quince. The mouthfeel has also gained even more and, mind you, that was already quite impressive right after opening. Creamy, melty, spicy, it’s all there. Salty in the front on the lips, there’s honey sweetness in the middle, a bit of apricot, then there’s pull from the acidity and out the back is the spice. Complex, round, balanced, everything there. And on top of that, as an exciting edge, comes the note of glue, a touch of vinegar and a bit of wood. We needed a bit, the wine and I, but eventually it fit and, without wanting to repeat myself, this mixture of fruit, creaminess, spice, fine sweetness, structure, power and balance is just great. I must drink more Loire.
- Nicolas Joly - Clos de la Bergerie 2015
- Clau de Nell - Cabernet Franc 2015
- Domaine Vacheron - Guigne-Chèvres 2015