Friday, May 1, 2015

From Millésime Bio in Montpellier, France, to Bistro Bis in Washington DC, USA: Gérard Dupuy and his Château Beausejour Wines in AOC Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion

Picture: Gérard Dupuy and Annette Schiller at Bistro Bis in Washington DC, USA

This is a posting by Annette Schiller, ombiasyPR and WineTours.

Gérard Dupuy and his Château Beausejour

Ever heard of Gérard Dupuy and his Château Beausejour in AOC Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion? Probably not. Unless, perhaps, you are into organic wines.

Château Beauséjour does not belong to the roughly 300 classified Bordeaux Châteaux, where the wines sell en primeur for 50 to 500 Euros per bottle. Château Beauséjour is one of the other 30,0000 producers that are not in the limelight and that make so called Petits Bordeaux wines. These producers have to struggle against the competition of wines from all over the world, including the New World. Many of these Petits Bordeaux producers are hidden gems and make excellent wines with an extremely good price/quality ratio.

One fantastic winemaker is Gérard Dupuy. I first met Gérard in 2010 at the Millésime Bio in Montpellier. The Millésime Bio is the world’s largest trade fair for organic and biodynamic wines, held annually at the end of January in Montpellier, in the south of France.

I tasted Gérard’s wines, was immediately impressed, and somehow his and my philosophy clicked. His wines impressed me so much that I included him in my wine tour to Bordeaux, which I organized in 2012 for a German Winebrotherhood. This group of true wine connoisseurs was as fond of his wines as I was and ever since the yearly ombiasy PR Wine Tour to Bordeaux includes a stop at Château Beauséjour. Besides visiting top classified Châteaux I insist of showing the group a broader perspective of Bordeaux and that there are gorgeous wines out there that everybody can afford. When I do my yearly visit to Château Beauséjour with my wine tour group Gérard and Claire not just show us the vineyards and cellars, they also organize a fantastic multi course luncheon deliciously matched to their wines – the group always loves it and very much appreciates Gérard’s wines. Cyril Mercier, a friend of Claire and Gérard is a gifted chef and prepares the meal.

Now, I was thrilled to meet Gérard at Bistro Bis in Washington DC, where he participated in a wine tasting to launch his wines on the American market.

Pictures: Gérard Dupuy and Annette and Christian Schiller at Bistro Bis in Washington DC, USA

Millésime Bio in 2010

It has been five years since I met Gérard and my account about the Millésime Bio in 2010 still holds true today:” … after the workshop on my stop at the Château Beauséjour table, a heated discussion arose on the subject of how to preserve wines. Gérard Dupuy, the owner defended the European tradition allowing a limited amount of added sulfites in organic and biodynamic wines. He pointed to the challenge for small wineries wanting to become organic by having to bow to rules that require certain technical procedures.

Picture: Annette Schiller at Millésime Bio in 2010in Montepellier, France

The Château Beauséjour in Puisseguin in the Saint-Emilion region of Bordeaux has always refused to use chemical treatment on soil, vines and in the cellar since Alain Dupuy, Gérard’s father adopted a winemaking procedure respectful of protecting nature in 1947. For fermentation autochthonous yeast strains for many centuries adapted to the environment are used. The vineyards are planted with 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. I loved the wines; they clearly were children of the terroir with a typical Merlot bouquet, a hearty soul reflecting the chalky soil, a substantial body and a lingering finish.”

Château Beauséjour

Gérard Dupuy is owner of Château Beauséjour, located on the fringes of the village of Puisseguin, where his mother still lives, and Château Langlais where Claire and he live. Both properties belong to the AOC Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion. He owns vineyards in Castillon where he produces the Domaine de la Grande Courraye, AOC Castillon-Côtes de Bordeaux (red)), and in 2010 he bought vineyards in Bergerac, where he produces the Clos du Moulin – AOC Bergerac (red and white). The winemaking facilities are at Château Beauséjour and all wines are made here. All vineyards are farmed biodynamically and he has a hands-off, natural approach in the cellar. I quote Gérard: “The refusal of chemical treatments at our winery 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. In the cellar, we use a minimalist approach. Our wines are aged for a period of 12 to 24 months in oak barrels.”

All wines are certified organic by ECOCERT. 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.

Gérard owns a total of 47 ha of vineyards, which amounts to about 115 acres. In 2015 he produced: Château Langlais: 70,000 btl, Château Beauséjour: 90,000 btl, Domaine de la Grande Courraye: 25,000 btl, Clos du Moulin: 30,000 btl red, 8,000 btl white.

Pictures:  With ombiasy WineTours at Château Beauséjour in 2012

Lunch at Château Beauséjour (AOC Puisseguin-St. Emilion) – a Vin Bio de Bordeaux - with Owner and Wine Maker Gerard Dupuy, France 
Bordeaux Trip September 2012, France

Where do Gérard Dupuy's Wine come from?

There are 4 so called satellites of the AOC Saint-Emilion, which do not have the classification system of the AOC Saint-Emilion. They are all located to the north of the town of Saint-Emilion. The 4 satellites are: AOC Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion; AOC Saint-Georges-Saint-Emilion; AOC Montagne-Saint-Emilion; AOC Lussac-Saint-Emilion.

The AOC Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion lies at the heart of the four satellite titles of the Saint-Emilion appellation. The grape varieties permitted are Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Thus, Puisseguin-Saint-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-Saint-Emilion was granted AOC status in 1936. 753 hectares of vine planted areas belong to the appellation.

AOC Castillon-Côtes de Bordeaux lies east of the village of Saint-Emilion and north of the town of Castillon. Castillon-Côtes de Bordeaux 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 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 Côtes de Castillon. In 2009, the Côtes de Castillon appellation was merged with several other Bordeaux Côtes to form the new Côtes de Bordeaux title.

Pictures: With ombiasy WineTours at Château Beauséjour in 2013

Tour, Tasting and Lunch at Organic Château Beausejour in AOC Puisseguin-St.Emilion, France
Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

Castillon has grown from around 2,450 hectares in 1982 to 3,250 today. During the last 25 years, 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 Count Stephan von Neipperg, owner of the classified Château Canon-La Gaffelière in Saint-Emilion, (whom we also visit on the ombiasy PR Wine Tour to Bordeaux) who acquired Château d'Aiguilhe.

AOC Bergerac borders the Bordeaux wine region to the east and is situated around the town of Bergerac. There are about 30,000 acres of vineyards and the Bergerac area contains 13 AOCs for red, white and rosé wines. Red grape varieties planted are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, a little bit of Côt, Fer Servadou, Mérille. The main white grape varieties are: Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Muscadelle. Some Ugni Blanc, Ondenc, and Chenin Blanc can also be found here.

The Wines Gérard Poured in Washington DC

Gérard Dupuy brought 7 wines to the tasting at Bistro Bis in Washington DC. All were top wines at very reasonable prices and certified organic by ECOCERT.

Pictures: Tasting in Washington DC

1) Clos du Moulin – AOC Bergerac (white) 2011

When I came to Puisseguin in 2012, Gérard offered some oysters and a white wine. I liked the wine and asked, where the wine was from. With a mischievous grin he said: from here. That took me by surprise since he could only produce red wines from his vineyards as far as I knew. Then he explained with his dry humor that he loves oysters and that he simply wants a good wine in his cellar to go with his oysters. So, he bought vineyards in the AOC Bergerac to make his own white wine for his oysters.

This Clos du Moulin white is a blend of 40% Sémillon 40% Muscadelle 20% Sauvignon Blanc. It was aged one year in new barrique, but the wood was already very well integrated at this point. The Muscadelle gave it a floral note on the nose, which was surprisingly restrained and never overbearing. This wine had a lot of character with volume in the mouth, a nice integrated acidity and lots of potential to age beautifully.

2) Clos du Moulin – AOC Bergerac 2012

This entry level red is a blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. 2012 was a good vintage in the Bergerac and this wine is a pleasant every day wine, hearty but with a certain softness, ready to drink now. The nose of dark cherry, plum was beautiful, the finish lingering on.

3) Domaine de la Grande Courraye – AOC Castillon - Côtes de Bordeaux 2012

This wine was a tough cookie to taste. The nose was gorgeous: dark berries, cassis, leather, wet leaves, but this blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc was unruly on the palate. It had not come together yet and the pronounced tannins left your mouth dry. However this wine will benefit from age, the tannins will soften, the good structure will harmonize, and it will be a wonderful, bold wine with a lot of character after a couple more years in the cellar.

4) Château Langlais – AOC Puisseguin Saint-Emilion 2012

This beautiful blend of 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon was gorgeous on the nose: fruity, red berries, herbs, only a hint of spice. This medium-bodied wine was already very balanced, round, with the soft tannins well integrated. It already developed a beautiful ripeness and was good to drink now. However this wine also has a great ageing potential and will give you even more pleasure after a couple of years in the cellar.

5) Château Beauséjour - Cuvée Spéciale - AOC Puisseguin Saint-Emilion 2012

This wine was a very nice interpretation of the terroir of weathered rock and chalky clay where the grapes were sourced from. The unusual blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc made this wine robust, but at the same time the tannins were already very well integrated, and the wine was very elegant and well balanced on the palate. The nose was expressive with plum, dark cherries, a hint of chocolate.

6) Château Beauséjour – Old Vines - AOC Puisseguin Saint-Emilion 2010

This wine was the knock off for me. The color in the glass was pitch dark, the nose of dark berries, spices, herbal notes was bewitching. This wine is a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc. On the palate the wine had tension, but at the same time was gloriously harmonious with an endless finish. It was matured for 24 months in new oak and produced with almost no intervention. It was a very authentic wine reflecting at its best what is called ‘terroir’. The grapes came from 80 year old vines, planted in 1936 by Gérard’s grandfather. Harvest was at a very low yield of 30 hl / ha, and only 9,000 btl were produced.

7) Château Langlais – AOC Puisseguin Saint-Emilion 2000

This wine is the same blend and from the same terroir than #4: only - it is 12 years older, and shows the potential of the Dupuy wines. In a nut shell: a gorgeous well aged, but still youth full example of a right bank Saint-Emilion wine.

Gérard Dupuy's Wines in the US

All Dupuy wines show the script of Gérard’s philosophy of winemaking: biodynamic viticulture practices in the vineyard to be able to interpret the terroir as closely as possible and as little intervention as possible in the cellar to create wonderful authentic wines.

Pictures: Sommelier Moez Ben Achour and Chef de Cuisine Paul Stearman from Marcel's, one of the top restaurants in Washington DC, tasting with the wines of Gérard Dupuy

I am very much looking forward to be able to buy these great wines here in the US instead of schlepping a few precious bottles back in my suitcase.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Bordeaux Trip September 2012, France

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

Lunch at Place de L’Eglise Monolithe in Saint Emilion and Visits of 3 Châteaux: Tertre Roteboeuf, Figeac and Beausejour

Vin Bio de Bordeaux - At Château Beauséjour in AOC Puisseguin-St.Emilion, France

Lunch at Château Beauséjour (AOC Puisseguin-St. Emilion) – a Vin Bio de Bordeaux - with Owner and Wine Maker Gerard Dupuy, France

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Vintage 2012 Bouchard Père et Fils Tasting at Ripple in Washington DC, USA – With Tasting Notes by Annette Schiller  

Pure Chablis – A tête-à-tête Dinner in Washington DC at Marcel’s with Chablis Wine Board President and Winemaker Jean-François Bordet, Domaine Séguinot-Bordet, USA/France

Dinner at Restaurant Chateau de la Barge in Creches sur Saone in Burgundy, France

Lunch at Château Le Bon Pasteur with Winemaker/Owner Dany Rolland, Pomerol, France

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