Cru d’Arche Pugneau

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It’s a family (the Daney family) joke that the Cru d’Arche Pugneau has been an unclassified estate since 1855 despite the fact that its vineyards are encircled and touched and are otherwise and in all ways in the neighborhood of the most grand and fabled estates of Sauternes. The domaine has been in the Daney family since 1923. Louis-Gabriel Daney owned the estate and produced the wines until 1970 at which point he was followed by his son, Jean-Pierre, who held the reins until 1981. When Jean-Pierre Daney retired, his son, Francis, in turn took his place as the third generation of the Daney family to control the affairs at this beautifully situated domaine.

The domaine consists of 13 hectares, with many small parcels spread over four different communes within the Sauternais – Sauternes, Preignac, Bommes and Barsac – as is frequently the case in this appellation. The majority of the parcels are within the village of Boutoc, which lies in the heart of the AOC Sauternes. Daney’s holdings here are bordered by the vineyards of several of the most prestigious of the classified grands crus – Yquem, Suduiraut, Lafaurie-Peyraguey and Rabaud-Promis. You can see the d’Arche Pugneau vineyard holdings marked in green on the accompanying map which also indicates the location of several classified growth producers of Sauternes, including the grand Yquem. The vineyards are planted 75% to Semillon, 20% to Sauvignon and 5% to Muscadelle. The soil is sand and gravel-based, with layers of clay at varying depths. The Daney home and chai and a small parcel of the d’Arche Pugneau vineyards sit at the foot of the hill at the top of which stands Chateau d’Yquem.

Cru-d'Arche-Pugneau2 Cru d’Arche Pugneau Sauternes: The grapes are harvested and vinified parcel by parcel as Daney makes numerous passes through the vineyards to select grapes depending on ripeness and the development of botrytis. It is important to note that Daney sells a significant portion of his production in bulk to négociants, so that all of the wine he bottles at the domaine truly represents the best of the domaine’s production. After fermentation is complete, the wines spend a minimum of two years aging in barrel, a very small percentage of which are new. After fining and filtering, the wines are bottled at the domaine. Our long history with the Daney family (we have been purchasing these wines since 1983) lends credence to our claim that these wines age in formidable fashion. Our private cellar is blessed with wines from the 1983 and 1990 vintages, among others, which are fine performers at the table today (December 2011).
Cru-dArche-Pugneau-TRIE-EXCEPTIONNELLE Cru d’Arche Pugneau Sauternes Trie Exceptionelle: Daney selects the finest grapes for his “Trie Exceptionelle” cuvée, which is vinified only in special vintages. The “Trie Exceptionelle” is composed of those grapes which carry the almost perfect balance among the elements of sugar, acid and botrytis. The selection is done bunch by bunch through a multitude of passes through the vineyards that can extend for several weeks and, sometimes over more than a month. Of course, the Semillon is the overwhelmingly dominant grape supplemented by a small percentage of Sauvignon and Muscadelle which lend additional complexity and verve to the “assemblage”.
Arche-Pugneau-Intemporel Cru d’Arche Pugneau Sauternes L’Intemporel: In 2007, Daney introduced “L’Intemporel”, a solera system Sauternes blending the 1997-2003 vintages. This special cuvée is a unique wine that emphasizes the special “terroir” of the estate rather than the nuances of each vintage. An interesting experiment that will require some time to arrive at its ultimate destination and for us to assess its character.
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