Grapes: Gamay + Pinot
Region: Cheverny, France
Soils: Flint + Clay
Vinification: Whole-cluster, open-top, semi-carbonic fermentation in vat. Pressed then finished in demi-muids.
Aging: Aged for eight months in used Burgundy barrels and 400-liter demi-muids.
Fining or Filtering: None
Sulfur: With all estate wines at Tue-Boeuf, the decision to add or avoid S02 is made instincively each vintage. If S02 is added, it is only at bottling and in a tiny dose of one gram per hectoliter.
Notes from the Importer: 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 four 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 (since ripped out), Menu Pineau (or Orbois), Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Côt (or Malbec). A visit to their cellar feels like a tour de France of varietals, each wine with its distinct personality, lovely label and wonderful name. Some cuvées are so small that there is never enough to go around.
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 (it bears to mention that they were also in their earliest stages of experimenting with sulfur free winemaking).
While firm believers in the AOC system, this began a trend of the brothers selling some of their wines as declassified Vin de Pays (now Vin de France). For us, it was one of the first examples of customers knowing and trusting the estate's work methods over the appellation itself. And while we cannot claim the Puzelats were the first to do this, it clearly served as a monumental influence in the world of natural wine, setting an example for those having problems or feeling stifled by their appellations' criteria.