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Knowing his roots

epicure 27 July 2012
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A 2004 comic book turned Jean-Pierre Amoreau’s Château Le Puy from Bordeaux from a little secret to a celebrity winery in Asia, but the winemaker took steps to avoid cashing in on its fame.

In an age when Bordeaux vintners like Château Margaux are experimenting using screwcaps for some of their wines, Château Le Puy is still holding on to the practice of hand-applying a wax seal over their corks and bottle necks. Apart from ensuring the ambrosia is airtight from environmental elements, the wax envelope is a badge of sorts; a trademark representing the traditional winemaking ideology the small family-owned winery has held since its inception in Bordeaux’s Côtes de Francs in 1610.

Behind Château Le Puy is its 74-year-old owner, Jean-Pierre Amoreau, the 13th generation winemaker, whose son, Pascal, has been assisting him for the past two decades. Located close to Saint-Émilion, the Côtes de Francs is the smallest appellation in Bordeaux, and is known for its excellent terroir—the soil is composed mainly of silicate-clay and limestone, which lend minerality to the wines. Château Le Puy has 25 hectares of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot planted on the western area of Côtes de Francs, on an area called the Plateau of Wonders (which is shared with Saint-Émilion and Pomerol), so named because of its exceptional soil. At 110 metres, Château Le Puy’s plots also sit on the highest point of the appellation. This height advantage, says Amoreau, means the weather is at least 2°C cooler than that of Saint-Émilion, which has a lower altitude of 46 metres. “We are able to produce wines that are more refined and aromatic,” he says.

Excerpt from the August issue of epicure.

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