Chateau Le Puy 2016 Emilien Bordeaux France
Appellation: Francs Côtes de Bordeaux
Grape Varieties: Merlot 85%, Cabernet Sauvignon 14%, Carmenère 1%
Soil type: Chalk, Clay
Vessel type: Wood - Old oak, Other
Château Le Puy is located on a remote and unusually elevated part of the so-called “hill of wonders”—the same plateau that is home to Right Bank’s most elite properties, like Pétrus in Pomerol and Cheval-Blanc in Saint-Émilion. There is no prestigious village appellation on the label of Le Puy’s wines, but there are whispers that this property may soon be awarded the Côtes de Bordeaux’s first Grand Cru. I could spend an entire morning writing about what makes this 10-mile stretch one of the most historic red wine zones on the planet, but the real story today is what’s happening on Le Puy’s own small hillside. This family has been farming grapes on this same slope since 1610. After WWII, when chemical agriculture became the norm in Bordeaux, Le Puy continued just as it had for centuries prior: horses and plows, enriching soils with compost and symbiotic flora, and maintaining a rich, self-contained ecosystem of forests, fruit trees, and wildlife. For 17 generations, and long before “organic” was a buzzword in the wine world, Le Puy was farming the hard way out of principle, not profit.
Chateau Le Puy has also been practicing biodynamics for longer than “Godfather of Biodynamic Wine” Nicolas Joly. This painstaking approach transforms these already special acidic, silex, and limestone-flecked clay soils into a dream location for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carménère. Average vine age is 55 years, but on a hillside that has never once been marred by chemicals, it’s not unusual to see far-older vines. Le Puy’s vinification process, like everything at the property, is patient and as natural as possible. All harvesting is done by hand and grape clusters are carefully destemmed before a lengthy 3-4 week fermentation on skins. There is no addition of sulfur, CO2, or sugar (a common practice in Bordeaux) at Le Puy. Following fermentation, there is no fining or filtration; just 12 months of gradual evolution in an ancient, 50-hectoliter foudre, then a final 12 months in 228-liter ‘Burgundy’ barrels before six months of bottle age and release.
With a deluge of sunshine in the latter half of the 2016 growing season, Bordelais grapes produced wines of perfect harmony and generous density. The crop was so grand, James Suckling noted that some winemakers in Bordeaux called the vintage “the second coming of Bordeaux,” which fit right into Le Puy’s natural philosophies. This isn’t weighty, opulent Bordeaux, but rather an ethereal, almost “weightless” red that effortlessly glides across the palate in Burgundian fashion. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s enjoyed fine Bordeaux from the 1970s and ’80s: these regal wines used to be far more about pristine aromatics and elegance than rich, dark-fruited muscle—it’s as if in eschewing chemical farming and modern cellar gadgetry, Le Puy has managed to preserve the soul of Bordeaux from decades past. The wine radiates with a vivid core of wild red-black fruits and stretches out with a memorable array of wild mushroom, crushed gravel, fired clay, damp leaves, petrichor, exotic spice, and rose petal. There’s a lot of squabbling in the world about whether or not natural wines can age, and the answer is simple: Yes, if skillfully made, and Le Puy is a longstanding master. Still, these wines are so incredibly inviting in their youth and this 2016 will sing with a one-hour decant. Enjoy now and over the next decade-plus.
Our Return Policy is very simple: If you don't like the wine you ordered from us, tell us, send it back to us and we will either replace it for you or reimburse the purchase price to you. Because we believe life is too short to drink wine you don't like.
HOWEVER, we are not responsible for damage caused to the wine due to the weather; heat or cold. If the weather is hot or cold, we urge that you either ask us to hold the wine(s) for you or order overnight shipping.