Claude Papin, winemaker and owner of Chateau Pierre-Bise, is a leading light in the Loire and a thoroughly engaging conversationalist to boot. Andrew Jefford calls him a ‘poet of Chenin Blanc,’ and Jancis Robinson MW refers to him as ‘one of the most talented wine growers in this part of the world, a true vine technician.’
His approach to Chenin Blanc can 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.’
The presence of some botrytis in a dry wine and the slightly oxidative winemaking style produces complex wines that often require time, food and thought. They are well worth the effort though, as any true fan of Loire wine will tell you.