La Butte or "the hill" is an organically farmed, hand-harvested 1.7-hectare parcel of 85-year-old Gamay on flinty clay-limestone soils in the Touraine. A small percentage of the fruit is of the teinturier type, distinguished by its red flesh, which adds deep color and flavor to this wine. Typical of Tue-Boeuf reds, the fruit goes as whole clusters into huge oak vats for a spontaneous fermentation, which is a semi-carbonic maceration with a closed top for around 10 to 14 days. The clusters are pressed and the wine finishes with a non-carbonic, open-top fermentation in vat. La Butte is aged for about 8 months in used Burgundy barrels.
Clos du Tue-Boeuf
Since the Middle Ages, there have been records about the lieu-dit “le Tue-Boeuf” and its excellent wines which were enjoyed by the local nobility and the kings of France. The family name Puzelat is mentioned in 15th-century documents.
History, though, is not the story here. It’s about two brothers, Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat, who tend their 10-hectare family estate in Les Montils (part of the Cheverny AOC) and rent 6 hectares in a village nearby to produce AOC Touraine. The region, near the hunting grounds of Sologne, has always used a wide variety of grapes. Since the 60’s, the Puzelats' father had been making his own selections of vines to replant, leaving his sons with vines of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Menu Pineau (or Arbois), Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Côt (or Malbec).
Jean-Marie was joined on the estate by his younger brother Thierry in the early 90’s and they began converting their vines to organic viticulture. When the Cheverny AOC was created with the 1993 vintage, some varietals became outlawed from the blends, and the brothers started a yearly struggle to get their wines accepted under the new appellation. Now, when a wine is rejected, they sell it under a Vin de Pays or Vin de France label; their customers know and trust their work and methods, so quality is never put into question.
A visit to their cellar feels like a tour de France of varietals. Some cuvées are so small that there is never enough to go around. Of the wines which have made it to these shores, there are several from Touraine: Le Buisson Pouilleux, a Sauvignon Blanc from old vines - bright, very mineral, with notes of verbena and honeysuckle; Le Brin de Chèvre, from Menu Pineau grapes - floral, light and citrussy; La Guerrerie, a sturdy red made with Gamay and Côt (Malbec) - spicy, peppery and requiring some bottle age and a red Cheverny La Caillère, Pinot Noir with Gamay - juicy, fruity and round.
After an illustrious, 40+ year career, Jean-Marie retired following the 2018 vintage. Thierry is now fully at the helm of the estate and was recently joined by his daughter Zöe.
- Louis/Dressner Selections
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