Andrew Guard

2011 Bordeaux Côte de Francs 'Barthelemy', Château le Puy

“Barthelemy” is Le Puy’s crowning achievement—the fruit is from their greatest, highest-altitude, poorest-topsoil site, which is treated even more minimally in the cellar than the “Emilien” above, and released several years after bottling. Like the Emilien, the Barthelemy is fermented in huge cement vats without human involvement. But, whereas the Emilien spends its first year in large foudres and its second in barriques, the Barthelemy is moved directly into barriques—gross lees and all—for its two-year elevage. During that time, it is “dynamized”—stirred gently in alternating clockwise and counterclockwise strokes—at each full moon, and the lees are subsequently subsumed over time. This ultra-labor-intensive method nourishes the wine and protects it against oxidation, and no sulfur is applied at any point in the process, from harvest to bottling. Even so, the Barthelemy is perfectly stable and can age for many decades, as proven stunningly in a one-hundred-year vertical tasting the Amoreaus hosted in New York last year. Those of you who fondly recall the 2011 Emilien (the first vintage we imported) will be in awe of this 2011 Barthelemy, as it strongly resembles its sibling in its brashly savory, explosive character, yet with greater aromatic complexity and a lengthier, deeper finish. That a warm-vintage wine that spent so much time on its gross lees can be so electrifyingly fresh is remarkable, and it speaks to the vitality of these vineyards which have never seen chemicals and have been worked biodynamically for generations. The complete palate harmony which is a Le Puy hallmark is fully evident, and although 2010 is often considered a greater vintage in Bordeaux, the 2011 Barthelemy may have the edge over its 2010 counterpart when it comes to overall impact and complexity. 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon..

I have been looking for some time to find a Bordeaux to add to our portfolio of wine and after several years of searching and tasting I have found something very special indeed in Château le Puy, run by the Amoreau family since 1610.

Jean-Pierre Amoreau and his son Pascal make very pure and equisite Bordeaux wine from their estate of fifty hectares of old vines in the Bordeaux 'Côtes de Francs' region. The estate is planted mostly to Merlot but also has plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Carmenère. For white wine, only Semillon is used.

These are special wines and an authentic expression of 'terroir' - Biodynamic agriculture, winemaker skill, soil and climate all combine to produce wines that age with grace and elegance, and with a bright acidity that keeps them fresh and alive.