The natural wine lunatics have taught us one thing: just because a wine is faulty doesn’t mean it’s great. However, faulty wines can have their pleasures and this bottle of Chateau Pibarnon 1997 is not without enjoyment value.
I popped this with some Beechcroft beef burgers to celebrate feeling almost slightly less appallingly ill and the incredible meaty flavour of the burgers worked a treat with the soft bum-action of the Bandol. I could almost forgive the glaring winemaking faults in the wine, that had Editor Daniel and I engaged in deep oenological discussion, but they are faults and so I am going to be rude about them. If someone made a Pinot this Brett-y they’d deserve a punishment worse than Pinotage.
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Bandol 1997, Chateau Pibarnon
OK, Let’s not mess around here, there is a definite poo character to this nose. I say horse, editor Daniel says cow, but farmyards are not even a sniff away. Now it is easy to be seduced by Brett, the evil beer-yeast that causes this aroma, especially when it is Bandol, but it’s a fault, I tell you, a wine-making fault and it shouldn’t be there. It causes unpredictable ageing profiles and some Brett-y bottles can smell more of poo than my en suite after a curry. That is not an attractive image, is it? It’s not even an attractive aroma profile so I want to stop thinking about the image now. However, even though wines can have faults, and let me be abundantly clear this wine does have a fault, they can still have some enjoyment value. There is soft, dark fruit, a leathery complexity and good earthiness. It also smells of poo! Do you hear me? POO! I may be getting less tolerant of this in my almost middle age, but this wine would have aged better and gratified me far more deeply if it were not quite so themed on poo. The palate is also poo-ridden, but that fruit, together with soft tannins makes it extremely enjoyable with meaty burgers. I know saying something is ‘a food wine’ is the poo-iest cop-out on the planet, but this really went well with serious meat action. Those unbound proteins and the tannins of the wine harmonise very well. Good length and pretty complex too, but when a lot of that complexity is in the form of a myriad variety of animal poo then I just find myself edging away in a polite but subtle manner (after pouring another glass when no one is looking). It’s a good wine, but it could be a lot better. I think I should try ageing some more recent vintages of Pibarnon. Since the 2001 vintage they’ve cleaned up their winery no end and, whilst the general view is they don’t age, I bet with a few years under their belt the Brett-less Pibarnon’s are just sex-licious.