If you haven't tasted Tue-Boeuf recently, you haven't tasted Tue-Boeuf

Photos by: 
Krystof Zizka, from LDM website

We recently organized a comprehensive tasting of the Tue-Boeuf wines with Jules Dressner. It was eye-opening, including for old dogs like me, who had a lingering impression -- even as a fan and buyer of them -- from ages ago, that the wines can be predictably variable, flagrantly funky, consistently inconsistent. The entire line-up was excellent overall, full of personality (which they’ve never lacked) along with a sense of place, which comes through quite clearly.

Jules helped crystallize it: he suggested thinking about Tue-Boeuf in the same terms as a small Burgundian estate, in their choice to do a basic, quaffable, respectable, delicious village-level white and red,  but mainly focused on single, small, specific-site-only wines from native varieties made in a low-tech manner. That is not to say that their wines are all "Burgundian" per se! But it turns out that the approach to the whites IS, as they are all barrel-aged on the lees with bâtonnage, while the reds are cru Beaujolais-oriented, all made with whole-bunches, semi-carbonically, in open-top vessels, then aged in barrel.

You take those very consistent, classic approaches, and then the cool, clay-based Touraine terroir (which renders the Sauvignon Blanc surprisingly tropical in tone, but clean and high-acid bright, not in the least bit green; and the Gamay on the earthier, darker, bloodier side, and the Pinot Noir too....) , combined with a minimal-manipulation approach (tempered by time and experience so they USE SULFUR, thank you, lord, in small but consistent amounts this millennium), and the wines come out expressive and interesting and incredibly well-priced for what you get in the bottle. Add in their love for uber-local yokels like the whole Pineau family (=Menu, Chenin, d’Aunis) and old Sauvignon variations (Fié Gris & Sauv. Rose), in all of their finicky and low-yielding glory, and it’s a quite a special brew.

Tue-Boeuf was our very first stop with Joe, Denyse, Kevin and the whole crew a hundred years ago, on my first LDM trip, so I have always had a soft spot for it—including the irrepressible, twinkling-eyed Thierry and more sober-mannered Jean-Marie who together did introduce me to the highest form of pork, rillons-- but I struggled with the results of their choices at points. And that is not to say that the brothers Thierry and Jean-Marie aren’t still experimental, creative and innovative. They are. But they aren’t kids anymore.  And yes, there may be a touch of VA, intentionally, as Jules pointed out in a red or two, or a bit of spritz in the current Chenin, maybe unintentionally—but taken as a whole, the Puzelats’ wines are expressive, well-made and well-priced.

If you think you know Tue-Boeuf but you haven't tasted in a while, it's time to revisit.

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