Château Pierre-Bise Chaume 1er Cru des Coteaux du Layon 2003

Curiously, I believe this appellation no longer “exists,” having been redefined out of existence by the INAO. Of course on anything but a technical level that is a ridiculousness; wines from this area now go by the “Chaume” label, pure and simple. At least, I think so…

This is a sweet wine made from the Chenin Blanc grape. Yes, I’m still tasting Loire Chenins. I’m kind of addicted to them at this stage, and happily so, as there’s nothing remotely like them from a local perspective. This one shows a rich golden hue, suggesting some development or at least a degree of lusciousness. The nose is forthright and inviting, with notes of pineapple, passionfruit and enough edgy flint to keep things from becoming too easy. Some complexity, with honeyed notes contributing to the overall profile.

On the palate, an explosive continuation of tropical fruit is most noticeable, but the mouthfeel and associated structure is what gets me. There’s a nice interplay between fine acidity and considerable viscosity that helps the wine to appear both fresh and rich at the same time. The flavour profile turns to citrussy sourness on the after palate, before a long, herb-tinged finish.

Nice wine. Unlike some dry Chenin-based wines, this one tends towards opulence rather than intellectuality, without sacrificing character and a measure of complexity too.

Château Pierre-Bise
Price: $NA (500mL)
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: September 2008

3 thoughts on “Château Pierre-Bise Chaume 1er Cru des Coteaux du Layon 2003

  1. Julian, do you have any advice to someone who has very little experience (and not a lot of money) when it comes to exploring French wines, and for that matter, cellaring them? Cheers jeremy

  2. Hi Jeremy,

    I guess it depends on how you like to approach wine generally. Personally, I’m of a slightly more structured mindset, so tend to immerse myself in one area or style at a time until I have some sense of it. You may enjoy a more broad-brush approach, sampling wines from all over, picking out individual favourites as you go.

    One challenge I continue to face is making sense of the system of appellations that applies in France. The general stuff is easy (Burgundy, Bordeaux, etc) but when you drill down into the villages and communes and so on, it can get a bit hairy. Self education is inexpensive and will provide some context to your tastings that, hopefully, will enable you to better understand the landscape.

    Some regions, in general, offer better value than others, and I know I often head to these if I want to drink something French without breaking the bank. The Loire is a great example. The superstar regions can often represent good value at the lower end in good vintages, for example village-level Burgundy and Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux. I tasted some village Burgundy from the 2005 vintage that I thought was good value even in local terms. It’s not dirt cheap, though.

    In terms of procuring the wines themselves, you can get a bargain at auction but there’s the question of provenance. A more reliable way might be to seek out a retailer/importer who you trust and work with them to taste through the parts of their portfolio that interest you. If you feed back to them what you liked and didn’t like, they should be able to further inform your selections.

    I’ve been buying in threes and fours so I can cellar at least a couple of bottles, depending on how the wine drinks now. Although I’d like to know in advance how wines will age, part of the journey is to live with the bottles and sample them slowly, in their own time.

    Having said all that, I’m still a relative novice in this area so it may be a case of the blind leading the blind. 🙂


  3. Thanks for tha Julian. Some very helpful thoughts. I think a reliable importer/retailer may be the way to go for me.
    As for the blind leading the blind, I find there are so many contrasting opinions about all aspects of wine, I just try and keep an open mind and seek help from people who are of interest to me and somewhat on my wavelength. Fortunately for me yourself and this site fits the bill, so many thanks again. Cheers jeremy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *