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Discover The Biodynamic Bordeaux - Chateau Le Puy - 400 years of natural wine

horses in biodynamic farming on a vineyard in Bordeaux Cotes de Francs on a wine tour at Chateau Le Puy
the rural Bordeaux :)

When we speak about the world's top wine regions, the ones that even the non-drinkers heard about, we all mention Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, maybe Piedmont. And what picture pops-up in our minds? Regardless of whether we've been there or seen it in someone's Instagram we imagine hills covered with vineyards to the horizon. Basically, no other agriculture, no crops, no animals.

But it would be very naive to imagine that this is the way it was done a couple of hundreds of years ago. Moreover, sometimes even half a century ago. Wine has been for a long time a synonym to fancy life - aristocrats and bishops were getting the crème de la crème, but we also know that wine was the most common drink for all levels of society. It was safer than water, as it's fermented. However, the wine wasn't a synonym to big business, parkers-sucklings-robinsons weren't invented yet, neither were wine auctions, so whole regions and countries couldn't rely on making their living solely out of producing wine.

So what were they doing? They were 'disloyal' to Vitis vinifera and growing various crops :) Wheat, barley, corn, beans, potatoes and lots of cattle, as there weren't many vegetarians then. And yes, also vine and vineyards, among all these crops and funky animals.

Therefore, after such a long preamble, let me take you to a place where wine is both - luxurious with sky-rocketed prices, but grown in those old-school traditions of our great-great-grandparents. Surprisingly, this place is well hidden in Bordeaux - the world's most commercial winemaking region with one of the most densely planted vineyards.

Chateau Le Puy - when biodynamic certification knocks your door by chance

"We never aimed for any kind of certification, this is just the way wine was made here for the last 400 years". This is how Emeline, the representative of Chateau Le Puy starts her explanation about the estate's philosophy. Fruit trees, cows, horses were always part of their ecosystem, at least for more than 400 years. Ever since family Amoreau owns this land.

biodynamic vineyard at Chateau Le Puy during a winery visit and tour at Cotes de Franc Bordeaux
healthy vines make great wines!

The whole philosophy of the family is quite a bit rebellious. They enjoy being outsiders in Bordeaux with their own way of doing things. Jean-Pierre Amoreau who leads the chateau since the 90's even promised to break the rules of INAO and step out of the appellation system. From vintage 2017 all Chateau Le Puy wines will be labelled as Vin de France only. Wines that are different are not by default faulty - they're actually what wine is supposed to be - an expression of the terroir and the personalities of people that produced it.

Chateau Le Puy winery visit and vineyard tour at a wine study trip to Cotes de Francs Bordeaux
in the library...

Synthetic herbicides or fertilizers (and basically anything that is not sourced naturally) had never been used in those 400 years. Vines of Chateau Le Puy were known as 'doctor vines', and the area - as Coteau des Merveilles ('Miracle Hill'). Until World War II vignerons of Saint-Emilion were buying from them grapes to add colour and freshness to their own wines. This was allowed by law then but became illegal in 1946. Le Puy lost their main business and the next 20 years were really tough for the family. Nevertheless, the estate kept growing vines and producing wine. Their way, without any chemicals. Today, as people are very much into certifications, it was just a matter of achieving the appropriate logo on the label and switching to the usa