Rewriting the Right Bank Rules – 2014 Releases from Chateaux Le Puy and Belregard-Figeac

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In the year we’ve been working with Chateau Le Puy, this singular and idiosyncratic Right Bank estate has made a multitude of fans—and even changed the way many people think about what Bordeaux can be. In a region known for its conservatism, where a fixation on polish, extraction, and control often straitjackets its wines, Bordeaux this alive and pure can be downright shocking—especially to younger audiences without memory or experience of the pre-Parker era. Thankfully, though there is only one Chateau Le Puy, they are not alone in their quest to make Bordeaux in as natural and unfettered a manner as possible. A few younger vignerons—prominent among which is our very own Christophe Pueyo of Chateau Belregard-Figeac—are beginning to take more risks in the cellar, to use less new oak, and to treat their vineyards with the care and precision that biodynamics dictate. The results have proven to be thrilling, and it bodes well for the future of this hallowed region and for its viability in an ever-evolving market. We just received the 2014s from these two boundary-pushing domaines, and we encourage you to experience this excellent vintage with us.

2014 Chateau Le Puy “Emilien” Francs Cotes de Bordeaux
Chateau Le Puy is an unlikely wonderland of sorts. Situated far out in the Francs Cotes de Bordeaux appellation, they occupy the extreme eastern reaches of the same plateau upon which Pomerol and Saint-Emilion rest—and at the same lofty altitude. In continuous operation for over four hundred years, the vineyards have never been sprayed with chemicals; biodynamic treatments have been employed since the 1960s; no outside yeast has ever been introduced into the cellar to induce fermentation; fermentations occur in cement vats without human intervention; aging takes place in barrels up to one hundred years old; and the wines are often made without any added sulfur whatsoever. The final products speak with a voice that is staunchly individual and eerily pure—Le Puy tastes like nothing if not the essence of old-style Bordeaux. The 2014 “Emilien”—a blend of 85% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Carmenere—spent one year in large, ancient foudres, a second year in very well-used 228-liter barriques, and was bottled as always without fining or filtration. It is lean, yet expansive on the palate – a dance of wild herbs, small red fruits, ringing limestone freshness, and a total seamlessness of texture that always characterizes Le Puy’s wines.

2014 Chateau Belregard-Figeac Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Christophe Pueyo assumed control of Chateau Belregard-Figeac—with whom we had been working for many years prior—several years ago, and immediately began making notable changes to the vineyard and cellar operations: ceasing the use of chemicals altogether and introducing biodynamic viticultural methods; using a gentle basket press to crush the grapes; employing only spontaneous fermentations; easing extraction by favoring remontage (pumping the must over the cap to keep it moist) rather than pigeage (punching the cap down); and shifting the oak regimen toward large, fine-grained Stockinger foudres (an elite Austrian cooperage much revered among natural-minded growers throughout Europe). The wines immediately began to display more finesse, more energy, and greater lift—along with purer and more electric fruit. We are thrilled with the quality of Christophe’s 2014 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, which offers a deep, gently savory nose, tensile but juicy red and black fruits, and a very long, mineral-dominated finish. Comprised of 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, from 40-year-old vines, it spent eighteen months in the Stockinger foudres and was bottled without fining or filtering.

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