Thursday, March 29, 2012
Vin Bio de Bordeaux - At Château Beauséjour in AOC Puisseguin-St.Emilion, France
My wife Annette and I visited Chateau Beausejour in Puisseguin in anticipation of the upcoming visit of the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim in September. We did not taste any wines this time.
In September, we will do a cellar and vineyard tour of Chateau Beausejour and will have lunch there. We will taste the 3 wines of Gerard Dupuy, who owns and makes the wines of Chateau Beausejour (AOC Puisseguin-St.Emilion), Chateau Langlais (AOC Puisseguin-St. Emilion) and Domaines de la Grande Courraye (Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux). All wines are bio wines, certified by Ecocert.
Gerard Dupuy is not one of the 150 or so winemakers in Bordeaux, who produce a premium Bordeaux that sells en primeur for several hundreds or even thousands of Euros per bottle. No, Gerard is one of the other 18.000 winemakers that are not in the limelight and who have to struggle against the competition of wines from all over the world, including the New World. But Gerard’s wines are interesting and special for at least 2 reasons. He produces – like so many others – good value Petite Bordeaux wines and he makes them organically.
AOC Puisseguin-St. Emilion
Puisseguin-St. Emilion lies at the heart of the four satellite titles of the St. Emilion appellation on the right bank. The grape varieties permitted here are Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Thus, Puisseguin-St. Emilion produces only red wines. Merlot is predominant, most often partnered with Cabernet Franc.
To qualify for the Puisseguin-St. Emilion appellation, wines must contain a minimum of 11% alcohol and come from vineyards planted to a density of less than 5500 vines per hectare. Puisseguin-St.Emilion was granted AOC status in 1936. 753 hectares of vine planted areas belong to the appellation.
The 4 St. Emilion satellites are St.Georges-Saint-Emilion, Montagne-St.Emilion, Lussac-St.Emilion and Puisseguin-St.Emilion itself – all located to the north of St.Emilion town. They are known as satellites because the area's more prestigious wine estates historically resented these supposedly inferior wines using the St.Emilion name.
Gerard Dupuy told us that the clay and limestone soil of Chateau Beausejour is planted with Merlot (73%), Cabernet Franc (22%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%).
All grapes are organically grown, certified by Ecocert. Gerard Dupuy: “The refusal of chemical treatments at our wineries dates back to their appearance on the market after 1945. We practice the total grass cover. This method allows regulating the ecosystem in a monoculture, while limiting soil erosion. In our vineyards, wild tulips thrive in the vineyard rows in the spring.” The combined vineyard area of Château Beauséjour and Château Langlais is 25 hectares. The average age of the vines is 40 years.
Moving on to cellar, there he follows the natural wine philosophy. Gerard Dupuy: “In the cellar, we use a minimalist approach. Our wines are aged for a period of 12 to 24 months in oak barrels.”
Domaine de la Grande Courraye
The vineyards of Domaine de la Grande Courraye are in the Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux appellation. I did not ask Gerard, but my hunch is that Domaine de la Grande Courraye is not more than a name under which the wine from his vineyard in Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux is sold. The same probably applies to Château Langlais.
Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux
East of St. Emilion and its 4 satellites, above the town of Castillon, lie the Côtes de Castillon and the Côtes de Francs AOCs. Côtes de Castillon is an appellation for red wines only.
The dominant grape variety is Merlot (70%). Cabernet-Franc (20%) and Cabernet-Sauvignon (10%) account for the rest.
Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux was recognized AOC only quite recently (1989). For a long time the wines of Castillon were only used as complementary alternatives to enhance Saint-Emilion blendings in poor years. Until 2009, these wines were sold as Cotes de Castillon. In 2009, the Cotes de Castillon appellation was merged with several other Bordeaux cotes to form the new Cotes de Bordeaux title.
Castillon has risen from around 2,450 hectares in 1982 to 3,250 today. During the last 25 years or so, several growers of Saint-Emilion, Pomerol and other famous areas have recognized the Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux’s potential and invested in local vineyards. One of them is Stephan de Niepperg, who has acquired Château d'Aiguilhe.
Ecocert is an inspection and certification body established in France in 1991. Ecocert has developed its own international network. With 23 offices and subsidiaries, Ecocert operates and offers its services in over 80 countries.
For a "Primer" on the various concepts of winemaking with an ecological mindset see: Organic, Sustainable, Biodynamic, Natural Wines … A Primer for “Green” Wines
The Wines of Gerard Dupuy
We did not taste the wines of Gerard Dupuy this time, but will do so in September, when we will come back with the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim.
Organic Wine in Bordeaux and in France
French organic vineyards doubled between 2007 and 2010 and then increased again 28 percent between 2009 and 2010 to reach 50,268 hectares, compared with a total of 860,000 hectares, accounting for 7 percent of the total.
The Aquitaine region, around the Garonne river, is today the third largest in the country to experiment with organic vineyards, behind Languedoc-Roussillon and Provences-Alpes-Cote-D'azur, respectively in southwest and southern France.
In Bordeaux, Chateau Guiraud in Sauternes - a 1855 classified producer - was recently approved to carry the organic label.
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