The 2015 release of Chateau Le Puy's flagship, "Emilien" has been been in my cross-hairs for a long time now. The hype of the vintage may be a tad overblown for some addresses, but for Le Puy this is the dynamite combo of wild concentration and length I've been waiting for.

Unfortunately, the secret is out on this Bordeaux estate that exemplifies the rare farm-first mentality of the region. Quantities are limited today to 24 bottles only. The
New York Times' Eric Asimov's excellent piece shined the spotlight on this chateau which, in one sip, makes abundantly clear it's the real McCoy.

In college, it was a Médoc that ended up being my epiphany red wine moment. In just one sniff my growing fascination in wine shifted from California to France. Truth be told, when an unfamiliar Bordeaux is poured for me it brings the most hopeful sense of anticipation. Regrettably, those thrilling experiences via Bordeaux don't appear often. The point-chasing, over-extracted, and ripe-beyond-recognition style set in motion in the mid-80's has changed the region for the worse. Yet, terroir-driven producers do still exist. 

It's no surprise the greatest of all the recent Bordeaux discoveries has come from importer, Neal Rosenthal. With names like Fourrier, Carillon, and Paolo Bea under his belt I'm always excited to taste new arrivals. When introduced to the new Bordeaux in the lineup I was transported to a time long ago. 

Chateau Le Puy is in its 14th generation of management by the Amoreau family. Situated in between Pomerol and Saint Emilion on the 2nd highest point along the Gironde estuary, this is home to the Bordeaux that's rooted in sensibilities more commonly found in Burgundy. The finesse, dead-serious-focus, and downright drinkability of Le Puy is worlds apart from the stylistic norm. It embodies that sense of place that so few do today, while not shortchanging on the regal qualities that are rightfully associated with Bordeaux.

“It’s the best Burgundy wine from Bordeaux”, proclaims the head of production, Steven Hewison. The son-in-law of the estate's owner is referring to the precision and ease of drinking that calls to mind the farm-first mentality of its sibling to the east. 

Since 1610 these vines have been farmed free of chemicals, and today full biodynamic practices are employed, with work being done by horse. The soil is an amalgamation of red clay, silex, and limestone. Plantings are 85% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and small percentages of Malbec and Carménère. 

Emilien is the main wine of the chateau. Initially aged in 5,000-liter foudres (many over 115-years-old), and then into neutral 228-liter Bordeaux barrels. In personality it shows a sturdy frame like that of Saint-Emilion, but with silken tannins and elegance that neighboring Pomerol is so revered for.

Duc des Nauves sits at the lowest elevation on the property on a sandy limestone parcel. The wine is fermented and aged exclusively in cement. The 2015 and 2016 offered today show a great juxtaposition. 2015's lean toward blue and black fruits and saturating texture. 2016's have more brightness, verve, and red-fruited notes.

Bartélemy comes from a single parcel of old vines known as "Les Rocs" planted on deep limestone. This is the most age-worthy wine of the estate. Élevage is in 228-liter barrels, of which less than 10% are new. The structure, saturating texture, and persistence of Bartélemy rivals those under the region's two famous classifications of 1855 and 1955.

Rose-Marie is a rosé in the style of Chateau Simone, offering transformative, age-worthy qualities that few rosés do. Produced by the "saignée" method where juice from red wine vats is "bled off". Fermented and aged in neutral oak barrels, bottled without filtration or the addition of sulphur. 30 cases were imported to the US.

Le Puy takes me back to a different era of Bordeaux, one where a sense of authenticity and traditionalism reverberate through the wines. With a lineup covering four distinct cuvées this is the prime chateau to reacquaint yourself with the region. 

*Quantities are very limited.


2015 Chateau Le Puy "Emilien" Côtes de Bordeaux 
$54 per bottle.

2016 Duc des Nauves Côtes de Bordeaux (Chateau Le Puy)
$24 per bottle.

2015 Chateau Le Puy Emilien Rose-Marie Rosé
$79 per bottle.


2010 Chateau Le Puy Bartélemy Côtes de Bordeaux
$164 per bottle.