Clos Puy Arnaud
Thierry Valette, the fantastic winemaker says it best:
There are many ways in which to make wine.
At one extreme one may do , with a romantic attitude, and at the other as a business with a calculator in hand. One may also abstain from making wine. When I was young, I chose the latter.
I belong to a generations’ old winemaking family. We harvested , grapes to vinify them in Algeria, in Chile, in the Loire valley, in the Languedoc region and also in Bordeaux; which went hand in hand with “the Valette wine merchant company” in St Ouen (Paris region).
My grandfather Alexandre, acquired Château Pavie and Troplong Mondot in the 40 's at a time when the reputation , of the terroir of Saint Emilion was far from what it resembles today... I have inherited from him, a skill of being able to anticipate the potential of a particular location.
Getting back to my situation, the world was a vast and passionate place, the earth focuses on, you and you grow roots, something that I was, in fact, trying to avoid.
Therefore I decided to develop an artistic career in modern dance and jazz.
In, these milieus, I met people who were completely engaged in their passion.
Being an artist, is a means to emotionally move people by having them enter a certain vibration stream, where they feel an inspiration and of course that they work enormously to externalize what they are experiencing.
I found this sentiment, a few years later when I decided to put down roots and return to winemaking.
I took my time and, with chance encounters , I educated myself both in an academic manner but also, and above all, from the meetings with certain people, each totally different but with one underlying characteristic, their strong characters. This way I learned the basics from Jean-Paul Valette at Château Pavie, François Mitjaville at Château Tertre Roteboeuf, Peter Sichel in the "Corbières" , Maryse Barre and Stéphane Derenoncourt at Chateau Pavie Macquin and Anne Calderoni, for the discovery and deepening of Biodynamics.
From these very differing viewpoints, I developed my conviction that it was necessary to synthesize an understanding between the tradition of finesse and elegance of the great growths, and a hedonistic approach that expresses fruit, pleasure, and freshness in the mouth, In other words wines that were delicious to consume in their youth yet having an ageing potential akin to those grown on great terroirs. As was so well explained by Gérard Margeon (Alain Ducasse group sommelier) : “Make wines that follow the evolution of the cuisine of great chef (evermore elegant and perfected until it expresses the essence of the ingredient). This purified cuisine requires wines that are crisp, precise, with minerals, and of course with power, referring to its energy and not its alcohol or woody nature”
It was at this time that I fully bought into the idea that agriculture has to respect the biotope. I knew then that I would engage in organic farming and was determined to find out more about bio-dynamic winegrowing.
The day arrived that I took over Clos Puy Arnaud with the idea of developing a veritable growing philosophy.
As early as 1874 the Puy Arnaud Cru was cited in the Feret wine reference book “Bordeaux et ses Vins” as being. classified as a first growth.
In the 1898 edition, it is written : “The Cru Puy Arnaud has 15 hectares situated on the rocky surface of Puy Carpin at the border of Sainte Colombe. Planted with noble grape varieties, cultivated with the utmost care, it produces some of the most sought after wines of the county”
Noting that at that time, Puy Arnaud was part of the St Emilion region. and was so until the first St Emilion Classification in the 1950.
Also notable was that fact that at the moment of the Medoc Cru Bourgeois, in the 1930, there were around 30 Cru Bourgeois on the current Castillon and Franc / Cotes de Bordeaux area.
These zones were relatively forgotten in the second part of the 20th century, Since the 1990, and due to lower land acquisition prices they have allowed for the development of a very talented elite. A “movement” that even now is undertaking, a campaign in the south west of France with its undulating countryside ((where there are still forests and plains amenable to bio-diversity)), with an extremely creative laboratory whose talented winemakers (a new frontier for Bordeaux crus) with their organic orientation “make wines” that never fail to surprise people by their qualitative improvements, Some wines among them even go as far as rivaling (or beyond ?) the best that Pomerol and St Emilion has to offer.