Two amazing wines from a couple of our favourite french producers.
JEAN-MARIE & THIERRY PUZELAT - CLOS DU TUE-BOUEF
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 15th century documents. Jean-Marie & Thierry Puzelat now run the family estate converting to organic agriculture in the mid-90's. They make an incredible amount of cuvees, from different grapes and parts of their estate, this is in no small part thanks to their father, who since the 60's has been planting his own selection of vines on the estate, a variety of Loire grapes, some of them close to becoming extinct. Due to changes in the AOC laws in the early 90's some of these grapes - such as Menu Pineau, were outlawed from being part of cheverny blends. Since then, the Puzelat brothers have struggled with the authorities every year to get the AOC status, most of their wines being labelled Vin de France or Vin du Table. Like the wine we're pouring this weekend, a blend of 90% Sauvignon & 10% Menu Pineau, the authorities don't like the use of the historic Loire grape Menu Pineau, so no region or grapes are allowed on the label.
Thankfully enough people trust the Puzelat name that all their wines are bought anyway. This trust is reinforced when you hear stories of their commitment - all the immediate land surrounding the Clos du Tue-Bouef vineyard was purchased by the Puzelats (luckily land is relatively cheap round here.) But not to be exploited, just to be left as is, preserving biodiversity in their vineyard and helping with pests as they tend to love intense mono agriculture. The Puzelat brothers are natural wine royalty and the white we're pouring this weekend is an example of how approachable and drinkable their wines can be, with great texture, it's what great Loire Sauvignon used to taste like before industrial production took hold.
The other wine we want to talk about today is available only in large format. We have two magnums of it, which we'll be pouring by the glass this Friday & Saturday night.
Formerly working in the world of politics, Jean-Christophe Comor gave it up for a life in the vines in Provence, starting Domaine Les Terres Promises in 2003. He discovered wine through drinking natural wines made with no additives and when he himself started producing and farming, that was the only route he would take, hand-harvesting grapes, sorting them in the vineyard and using minimal sulphur. The weather in Provence makes it easier for him to farm organically than those in the Loire and he learnt his new trade with help from the likes of Catherine & Pierre Breton & Marcel Richaud. He works with many different varietals, including being one of the few places that still produce Carignan Blanc. But the wine we have this weekend is one that's only bottled in magnum, a blend of old vine Carignan, produced carbonically (most famously a technique used in traditional beaujolais) with young vine Mourvedre. It's a wine full of energy and is perhaps best described in a paragraph not my own, but written by Aaron Aynscough at the fantastic Not drinking poison in Paris:
Made from an assemblage of carbonic-macerated old-vine Carignan and (non-carbonic) young-vine Mourvedre, it's the rare Provençal red that seems like it would be feasible to drink during a Provençal summer: it's buoyant, with keen black fruit, broad but nimble, like the dancer whose job it is to catch the other, lighter dancers in mid-flight. Or like a lighter, almost humorous cover of the grave song that is Mourvedre.
It's delicious and there are very few bottles made. We have number 176 & 177 and it's available by the glass tonight & tomorrow.