Bordeaux Games - part two
Left Bank or Right Bank? Bordeaux, continued...
The next day – as the others went off for a good walk, and after I had lunched alone at the 16-seat dining table, enjoying iced Lillet Rosé and a ham baguette rustled up by Nathan Outlaw’s former sous chef – Anna took me to meet local Castillon wine hero, Thierry Valette. Thierry is an early pioneer of biodynamism. Its principles may still be practised rarely in Bordeaux, but they are finally being taken more seriously thanks to the unalloyed success of Pontet-Canet in Pauillac.
Originally a jazz singer of no small renown, Thierry, with his wiry frame, close-cropped silver hair and piercing cobalt-blue eyes, resembles how a latter-day Sinatra might have looked if he had kept the weight off – only his weathered, soil-hardened vigneron’s hands spoiling the picture. “Bio-dynamism without realism doesn't work,” he said straight off, as if used to allaying the suspicions of the sceptical, but then added gnomically “winemaking is a combination of homeopathy and physiotherapy”.
Amusingly, this is the sort of statement that both the biodynamic movement’s detractors and zealots would leap on to say their point has been proven but, as ever for me, winemakers’ philosophies are only of interest with regards to how they translate into the wine itself – and Puy Arnaud is every bit as reasonable as it is reasoned. The vineyards sit at 90m on the same chalky plateau as chateaux Ausone and Troplong Mondot in Saint-Emilion, benefiting from a very similar geology. The quality of the resultant wine is a reproach to the Bordeaux authorities’ decision to abandon Côtes de Castillon AOC in favour of generic Côtes de Bordeaux. Even Puy Arnaud's modest second wine, Cuvée Pervenche from the difficult 2012 vintage, showed a vitality, intensity and plushness that deserves wider recognition.
Read the full article here
Published on: September 24, 2014