Spotlight: Chateau Le Puy
Applying biodynamic principles to their vineyard, Chateau Le Puy has made notable strides in Bordeaux viticulture. The Château, erected in the early 17th century and later expanded in 1832 by Barthélémy Amoreau, has a rich history. Having been in the Amoreau family for over four centuries and spanning 15 generations, it perches on the same geological plateau as Saint-Emilion and Pomerol; the 'Plateau of Wonders', overlooking the scenic Dordogne valley.
Their vineyard spreads across three plots on 35 hectares, the soils a mix of clay, limestone, and silica. Flints found between the vines are fascinating evidence of the area's history as medieval battlegrounds.
The vineyard is mainly planted with Merlot (85%), supplemented by Cabernet Sauvignon (14%) and a unique 1% of ancient Carménère vines. Moreover, a small area of mature Semillon vines are used to produce the un-sulphured white wine, Marie Cecile.
Adhering to biodynamic principles, they avoid chemicals and commercial yeasts, maintain low yields, and age the wine in traditional concrete vats and French oak barrels. They use natural preparations and composts to improve soil vitality and vine health, timed with lunar cycles. This commitment to the grape's natural expression results in wines that truly reflect their terroir.
Today's winemakers, Jean-Pierre, Françoise, and Pascal Amoreau, are the latest in the long line of family wine makers. They've kept this tradition largely unchanged, following Jean Pierre's ethos: "Being a wine grower is being an artist with method, audacious with reflection, enthusiast with meditation, ardent with patience, stubborn with imagination, thrifty with generosity."
Château Le Puy's wines, whilst distinctive, aren't about making headlines, impressing critics, or commanding extravagant international market prices. Their value does increase with age, but the primary aim remains to embody and express the unique character of their vineyard.