CASE BUY ALERT: Insane 2016 Value from Right Bank Iconoclast Ch. Le Puy!
Posted on: 09/17/18 12:00 PM
Château le Puy has justifiably built up a huge following here over the past couple of years. We’re not exactly alone, as it seems to have done the wine equivalent of ‘going viral’. The surprising kick-starter was in Japan, where incredibly a wine themed manga essentially named it the greatest wine in the world. That might all seem a bit silly, but it does seem to have begun a global awakening via a chain reaction. Of course, none of that ‘hype’ would have got anywhere if people weren’t blown away each time they taste the wines. They are unique, and very very special.
Slightly lesser known than their usual ‘Emilien’ wine is their new second wine, which is actually a second estate purchased 3 years ago – ‘Duc des Nauves’. Farmed in exactly the same way as the top wines from a 9 hectare vineyard the same limestone plateau Le Puy sits on, but a marginally lower altitude and a ¼ mile down the road. It has to be one of the most exciting values anywhere in Bordeaux at the moment.
Throw in the fact that this is from 2016, which as many of you will know I believe to be the great vintage of modern times, and you simply cannot lose at this price. If you’re already on the Le Puy bandwagon and have tried the Emilien or Bartholomey wines, then you absolutely cannot miss this. If you’ve yet to get involved, there could not be a better way to dip a toe in the water than by trying a few bottles of this perfect introduction to the Le Puy oeuvre.
2016 Duc des Nauves, Côtes de Bordeaux
What a perfect example of both the Le Puy style and the brilliant 2016 vintage. This has a glorious dark and earthy nose with blackcurrants and smoked meat, counterbalanced with a light, elegant and super smooth mouthfeel. Excellent length on the finish, and fine silky tannins all the way through. Manages to taste just a little ‘dirty’ in the nicest possible way, while remaining completely accessible and super easy to drink. Hard to put down the glass!
More about the wine:
Le Puy is different. I like different. As Eric Asimov writes, Le Puy is ‘marked by purity, precision, lightness and drinkability that encourages taking another sip. They have an intensity of flavor despite their grace, a combination more often associated with that other great region in the east of France …’
Indeed, there is more than a hint of the Burgundian about Le Puy. When we held a tasting of the wines back in 2016, it was striking how many of our regular Burgundy customers dived into these wines with gusto, and it’s no surprise that it’s among our Wine Director and Burgundy Warrior Ian Halbert’s favourite Bordeaux. It’s not just the sense of elegance, purity and ‘grace’ that does this, but something in the character of those that make the wines.
The headline on Le Puy is very often Biodynamics, but their practices are really something a little more than that. The Amoreau family have been farming in this way or similar for generations, and long before such things were ‘codified’. The emphasis has always been on the soil, and on creating a truly independent farm- with wild animals and wild plants both allowed and encouraged, as well as resident horses, bulls, cows and sheep. The thinking behind this is that it creates a naturally healthy ecosystem for soil, as Pascal Amoreau says ‘When you work in a monoculture, it changes the fauna. You end up with more parasites than predators. The wild areas have more predators. You have to have wild areas around the vines to maintain a balance’.
These principles have aligned very well with those of biodynamics, but they came about independently at Le Puy, and they will be there long after the current fashion for biodynamics cools off.
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