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- PIERRE-OLIVIER BONHOMME, Touraine – Organic
- Bonnhomme Clos du Tue-Boeuf, Puzelat Brothers - at a glance
- CENTRAL VINEYARDS
There is no doubt that the Loire is the real and spiritual home of the natural wine movement. This is undoubtedly due to the marginal
climate and the commitment growers need to put into their vineyards. Biodynamics is hugely risky, eschewing chemical solutions to
problems such as mildew means that every vintage is a lottery. However, having worked amongst their vines with such extraordinary
devotion, many vignerons wanted to express the terroir and the typicity by relying on minimal interventions in the winery. Thus we have
natural wines with wild yeast fermentations, no filtration, no fining and little or no added sulphur dioxide. It allows us to understand what
wine tastes like when it is naked. Some critics complain that it is not wine; they are not familiar the style, the uncertainty and volatility.
Others see it as a kind of irrefutable truth, an expression of identity and individuality in a world of homogeneity.
Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme worked with Thierry Puzelat on his negoce project which then became Puzelat-Bonhomme when
Pierre took shares in the business. Eventually, Thierry went to join his brother and work full time in the family business, Clos
du Tue-Boeuf, whereupon Pierre-Olivier took over the reins.
He still mainly buys in grapes from small organic farmers, but owns the La Tesniere plots.
Hold the horse manure, ordure in court. Or even in cot for that matter. Pierre-Olivier’s reds are a journey into a mulching
tangle of undergrowth. You won’t find any babies in Pierre-Olivier’s Cot (I trow) but you may discover a veritable wilderness
of yeasty madness for this is Malbec sauvage, sans filtration and sans sulphur. Bacon fat, marmite and leather, smoked meat –
this wine wears its guts for garters. In Cot We Trust hails from the same whiffy stable of wine as Olivier Cousin’s Grolleau.
When you taste it the metaphorical impression you receive is that the wine has escaped its surly bonds and is drunkenly
staggering around the place happy to pick a fight with every wine you’ve tasted and every expectation that you hold. Most of
the Malbec I’ve come to grips with, even the beefier specimens, have a ramrod up their backside; this version is soft, sweet
and smoky with that smell of just-finished fermentation. It seems raw, unfinished, lacking in structure and yet at the same time
is very moreish. Its strength is that it tastes so real; that may also be its weakness.
Blood and guts mingle with guts and blood – pitch this Cot at a civet of venison or hare or a game pie or some lamb’s
sweetbreads. And stand well back…
Natural wine at its most ebullient, its blue-purple colour is pricklier than Gore Vidal after a few drinks, exhibits aromas
of peonies (I guess), kirsch and caraway and has a gutsy palate flaunting pepper, punchy tannin and stiletto acidity.
Climb into this Cot with alacrity...
The Pinot Noir acts as the mad monk in this scenario. It is a lean and hungry specimen with the colour of cranberry juice
with the smell of fermenting redcurrants, but actually carries deceptive weight under its flowing robes. Please chill this
and serve with Roast Chicken à la Simon Hopkinson. Bonhomme’s version is bonny and fresh, a velvet crush of
raspberries and summer strawberries with enough of a liquorice twist to give the winery a savoury dimension. The
ripeness is just-so, suggestive rather than full throttle, and the lightness of alcohol (12%) makes this a breeze to drink.
His Romorantin is simply stunning. Consider 105 year old vines and younger vines (a mere 37 years old) planted on French
rootstock on silex and then aged in old barrels. It may look fragile at 11.5%, but the wine is a veritable vin de garde and has
an intensity that lingers remarkably on the palate. Aromas jostle for attention: lemon and chalk followed by mixed white fruits
(white peaches, Mirabelle plums, pears), honey, almonds and clean, minerally scents reminiscent of finely-spun wool. It’s
complex on the palate, too, extremely vinous showing lemon-cream and honey. Ripe apple juiciness quickly gives way to tart,
steely acidity that sings like a taut violin string, providing balance and structure for the full, luscious fruit. On the second day
the acidity became steelier and more penetrating, the flinty minerality more pronounced taking on back notes of ginger, white
pepper, pearskin and hell’s granny smiths. Drink this with aged Gruyere, smoked trout or langoustines with garlic
The two Tesnière wines possess verve in alacrity. The white is a blend of Menu Pineau and Romorantin and exhibits
scintillating acidity, whilst the red from Pineau d’Aunis is pale and fresh with a distinctive herbal/peppery twist.
SAUVIGNON DE TOURAINE
TOURAINE TESNIERE BLANC
VIN DE FRANCE TESNIERE ROUGE (PINEAU D’AUNIS)
TOURAINE KO “IN COT WE TRUST”
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CLOS DU TUE-BOEUF, Touraine – Biodynamic
Since the Middle Ages, there have been records about the lieu-dit “le Tue-Boeuf” and its excellent wines which were enjoyed
by the local nobility and the kings of France. The family name Puzelat is mentioned in 15
History, though, is not the story here. It’s about two brothers, Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat, who tend their 10-hectare
family estate in Les Montils (in the Cheverny AOC) and rent 6 hectares in a village nearby, in the Touraine AOC. The region,
near the hunting grounds of Sologne, has always used a wide variety of grapes. Since the 60’s, the Puzelats’ father had been
making his own selections of vines to replant, and left them with vines of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot
Gris, Menu Pineau (or Arbois), Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Côt (or Malbec).
Jean-Marie (the older brother by 10 years) was joined on the estate by Thierry in the early 90’s and they began converting
their vines to organic viticulture. When the Cheverny AOC was created with the 1993 vintage, some varietals became
outlawed from the blends, and the brothers started a yearly struggle to get their wines accepted under their appellation. Now,
when a wine is rejected, they sell it under a Vin de Pays or Vin de Table label; their customers know and trust their work and
La Guerrerie is a blend of 75% Cot and 25% Gamay and definitely earns its wacky wine moniker. Very earthy (polite term for
122irabell) with extremely bright fruit such as plum, spice, fresh herbs with ash and wood notes. Dusty, earthy, minerally,
complex and savoury. Structured as much by acid as by tannins. Despite its brightness it is definitely on the dark berry fruit
side of things. As with other “low sulphur” wines you can’t escape the ping of wild yeast which manifests itself here as warm,
doughy smells. This is very full-bodied due to the high content of Cot but the Gamay softens it and makes it accessible. Chill it
for half an hour in the fridge, then carafe it.
Bear in mind this wine and its idiosyncratic nom-du-guerre when you next exclaim “I could murder a steak”. La Guerrerie
smells and tastes as if it has slaughtered quite a lot of beef in its time and knows where the bodies are buried.
Puzelat has, not unnaturally, been described as the “Pope of unsulphured wine”. Well, we’re glad he believes in the living
Cot. Benedictus benedicat!
So many cuvées, so little time. A Pet Nat – from Menu Pineau, (mais nat), Brin de Chevre is another example of this rare
grape – citrus, honey, crystallized ginger. Petit Buisson is a tangy Sauvignon, whilst Buisson Pouilleux is its old vines brer is
unlike any other Sauvignon Blanc that you can imagine. Bright light lemon with intense minerality and brilliant notes of
honeysuckle, verbena and even persimmon. So exotic. Great palate coating depth. There’s a Cheverny Blanc called Frileuse
which mixes Sauvignon Rosé (yes, indeed), Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and a pair of limpid red Chevernys, both
TUE-BOEUF SRL VIN DE FRANCE E P’TIT BLANC
CLOS DU TUE-BOEUF CHEVERNY BLANC “FRILEUSE”
CLOS DU TUE-BOEUF BRIN DE CHEVRE
CLOS DU TUE-BOEUF PETIT BUISSON
CLOS DU TUE-BOEUF BUISSON POUILLEUX
CLOS DU TUE-BOEUF CHEVERNY ROUGE “ROUILLON”
CLOS DU TUE-BOEUF CHEVERNY ROUGE “CAILLERE”
CLOS DU TUE-BOEUF ROUGE “LA GUERRERIE”
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Petillant Naturel ~ Menu Pineau with natural yeast vinification. No dosage, filtration or fining
L’P’tit Blanc -
Sauvignon de Touraine ~Typical of Thierry’s whites there’s some ripeness. Think apples rather than grassy
Vin de France Romorantin ~ from vines in Cour-Cheverny – two tiny plots, one 40 year old vines, on French
rootstock, the other 105 + year old. Terrific purity.
Tesnière Blanc – Menu Pineau & Romorantin. Brilliant and lithe, acidity pinging to all corners of the mouth.
Brin de Chevre, Clos du Tue-Bœuf ~ Menu Pineau. Vibrant minerality, saline edge
Cheverny Blanc “Frileuse, Clos du Tue-Boeuf” ~ A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Rose and Chardonnay
in used barrels. Late harvest, slightly oxidative style.
Petit Buisson, Clos du Tue-Boeuf ~ Another tangy Sauvignon, naturally fermented – orchard fruits.
Buisson Pouilleux Vieilles Vignes, Clos du Tue-Boeuf – Old vines Sauvignon fermented in old barrels. Rich,
nutty and oxidative – fantastic length.
Touraine Tesnière – Pineau d’Aunis in old barrels – soft red fruits with a hint of white pepper
Touraine KO In Côt We Trust – Purple Malbec, violets and red fruits, firm backbone
Pinot Noir – Very savoury style of Pinot with distinctive peppery notes. Very pure
Cheverny Rouge, Clos du Tue-Boeuf ~ Classic Gamay-Pinot Noir blend with red berry fruits and silky tannins
Cheverny Rouge “Rouillon”, Clos du Tue-Boeuf – 50/50 Pinot Noir/Gamay. More depth than the straight
Cheverny Rouge « Caillère » Clos du Tue-Bœuf – 100% Pinot Noir. Fantastically elegant
“La Guerrerie” Clos du Tue-Boeuf – Côt/Gamay – Wild aromatics with vivid cherry and raspberry fruit
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humans. Soil is full of life, while dirt is devoid of it.”
― Olivier Magny, Into Wine: An Invitation to Pleasure
SAUVIGNON DU VAL DE LOIRE
COUR-CHEVERNY “LES ACACIAS”
COUR-CHEVERNY “LES ACACIAS” magnum
CHEVERNY ROUGE “LES ARDILES”
CHEVERNY ROUGE “DESIRE” – magnum
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DOMAINE HENRY PELLE, Menetou-Salon – Organic
Situated right in the heart of France, in the extreme east of the Loire Valley, a stone’s throw from Bourges lies the
charming little Berry village of Morogues with its fields, meadows and slopes clustered around its very beautiful church.
The Domaine Henry Pellé cellars are nestled at the foot of one of these slopes
The vines grow in Kimmeridgean clay-limestone marl made up of myriads of minute fossilized oyster shells called locally
terre blanche or white soil. Out of respect for the terroir the estate practices organic viticulture (promoting healthy soil,
and a living environment, fauna).
Working the soil and green harvesting helps to control yields, ultimately focusing the fruit flavours.
Grapes are gravity fed into pneumatic presses and fermented using natural yeasts while thermo-regulated stainless steel
tanks allow control over fermentation
These wines with tongue-samba-ing acidity will introduce the notion of oystercide in your mind’s palate. Take a shot
glass, chill it in t’ freezer for twenty minutes, bang some Menetou-S in and deck it with some friendly natives (I’m still
speaking bivalves here). Showing lively nostril-arching gorse and broom aromas there is a bristling palatal interplay
between grapefruit, blackcurrant and shell-like minerality. Les Blanchais, from 40-year-old vines, is a touch more vinous
and more complex. Astonishingly pure mineral nose (slate), grape-pith and crystallised lemon on the palate, beautiful
persistence and a rapier thrust of acidity. It’s got guilefully gaious alto-tude in abundance.
The red Menetou, from Pinot Noir, has a clear garnet colour, not much darker than a dark rosé. It shows rather vegetal
green-tomato aromas over vinous red fruit at first, and hits the palate with a lean and herbal first impression; but a little
time in the glass sees the nose add pleasant spicy notes of cinnamon and cloves, and the flavour develops full, almost
plush red fruit with plenty of lemony acidity to give it structure.
MENETOU-SALON BLANC MOROGUES
MENETOU-SALON BLANC MOROGUES “LES BLANCHAIS”
MENETOU-SALON BLANC MOROGUES “LES BLANCHAIS” – magnum
MENETOU-SALON ROUGE MOROGUES
DOMAINE LAPORTE, Pouilly-Fumé
Poised, elegant Pouilly-Fumé from vines grown on a mixture of chalk and flint combining high quality ripe Sauvignon fruit
with a fine array of pure mineral flavours. The length is incredible; there are even secondary notes of honey.
POUILLY-FUME “ROCHE BLANCHE”
DOMAINE DES BERTHIERS, JEAN-CLAUDE DAGUENEAU, Pouilly-Fumé
Jean-Claude is the scion of the famous Dagueneau clan. His vineyards are situated in the terroir called Les Berthiers
in the village of Saint-Andelain. This area is composed almost exclusively of hillside vineyards overlooking the Loire
river and facing south-southwest. Consequently, these are some of the best-drained soils, with excellent exposure in
the appellation. The wine itself sees a short period of skin contact before being slowly cold fermented for 3-4 weeks. It
is then aged on the fine lees to give the wine added richness and some of that distinctive smokiness. His basic wine is
rich and fruity with a touch of grapefruit and red apple whilst the Cuvée d’Eve, from forty-year-old vines, deserves
some relaxation in the decanter to shed its primary austerity. The brevity of the note indicates how little we need to
advertise its qualities.
POUILLY-FUME – ½ bottle
POUILLY-FUME “CUVEE D’EVE”
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Terroir – poetically revisited
The vines and the wine it produces are two great mysteries. Alone in the vegetable kingdom, the vine makes the true savour of the earth
intelligible to man. With what fidelity it makes the translation! It senses, then expresses, in its clusters of fruits the secrets of the soil. The
flint, through the vine, tells us that it is living, fusible, a giver of nourishment. Only in wine does the ungrateful chalk pour out its tears…
Colette – Earliest Wine Memories
DOMAINE GERARD FIOU, Sancerre - Organic
This small domaine was one of the first to modernise in the region of Sancerre. The vines are planted on the rocky
silex soils and the resultant wine takes a little time to show its true colours. But when it does, it is impressively pure
and expressive of the flint from which it was born.
Very pungent elderflower and gooseberry fruit, but there’s an edge of ripe pear and pear-drop, with a little suggestion
of a more tropical fruit character. Very crisp, clean and racy on the palate with a core of orchard fruits that is very
pure and focused through the mid-palate, with melon and a tangy apple acidity on the finish.
DOMAINE ALEXANDRE BAIN, Pouilly-Fumé – Biodynamic
The vineyards (4.9ha) are situated in Tracy-sur-Loire in the north of the Pouilly-Fumé appellation on south west oriented
slopes mixed between Portlandian limestone and Kimmeridgean clay. A lot of work amongst the vines: pruning,
debudding, leaf thinning, whilst neither pesticides nor artificial fertilisers are used. Travail du sol is effected with the aid
of a horse. This method of working the soil, the vines, the grapes and the wine is based on ecological responsibility and
the desire to create a wine that offers the maximum of pleasure. Which it does. The wine is vinified in cement. This is a
lovely expression of Sauvignon with ripe kiwi fruit and a particularly tangy finish.
The cuvees change from vintage to vintage – some are more on the tropical fruit and lactic richness, others convey greater
POUILLY-FUME “LA LEVEE”
VIN DE FRANCE “PIERRE PRECIEUSE”
POUILLY-FUME “PIERRE PRECIEUSE”- magnum
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