Clos du Tue-Boeuf (Thierry Puzelat)

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 Puzelatz is mentioned in 15th century documents.

History, though, is not the story here: this is about two brothers, Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat, who tend their 10-hectare family estate in Les Montils (in the Cheverny AOC) and rent 6 hectares in a village nearby, in the Touraine AOC. The region, near the hunting grounds of Sologne, has always grown a wide variety of grapes. Since the 60’s, the Puzelats’ father had been making his own selections of vines to replant, and left them 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, (the older brother by 10 years), was joined on the estate by 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 their appellation. Now, when a wine is rejected, they sell it under a Vin de Pays or Vin de Table label; their customers know and trust their work and methods.

The white wines are pressed and the juice is decanted directly into casks where they stay on the lees until bottling without racking. For the red wines, whole clusters are put into open, tronconic wooden vats with a CO2 cover. The vat room is temperature-controlled at about 14° C, and it helps to have a vinification temp of 17-18° C. They don't have coils in the vats- Thierry says it is not necessary-but an important step is that the red grapes are cooled in refrigerated trucks before arriving at the winery. They stay a night in the truck at about 5° C, to cool the grapes down and also shake any bacteria.

After a week in vat, with the cap being punched regularly, the wine is racked into 225 and 500 liter casks. In addition to the 40-hectoliter tronconic vats, Thierry also uses what he calls the "yogurt pots" (pot de yaourt)- 30 hectoliter fiberglass vats- which he uses for small batch fermentations. He also has smaller volumes with a few old steel vats. No sulfur is added in their vinifications, with only a small dose of SO2 before bottling (always less than 15mg).

 

For an excellent video on Thierry, click here.