Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thierry Puzelat's Romorantin

Another stop on the unending trail of trying to puzzle out just what Thierry Puzelat is up to (yeah, yeah, I know...). The more I drink his wines, the more I find that there's a recurring signature, especially in terms of aroma, that carries across his entire line of work, through both whites and reds. I'm not sure I can put into words exactly what that signature is, but it definitely has something to do with a certain wild, savory thread of scents that conjure up everything from the meadow to the rockpile to the cellar. Most obviously, it might be attributed to terroir, to working exclusively with organically and/or biodynamically farmed vines, to the ambient yeasts native to Puzelat's fruit, to his low S02 regime....

I'd say it's all of the above, along with the man's own influence on his end products. And I should add: the more I drink his wines, the more I like them.

Vin de Table Français Romorantin, Thierry Puzelat 2006
$22. 13% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.
Puzelat produces tiny quantities of his Vin de Table Romorantin from fruit grown in a flint-rich vineyard near the path of the Loire in the environs of Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny. Dating back to 1905, the vineyard includes vines that were planted on their native rootstock in 1973. The century-old vines and the francs de pied both give naturally low yields (25-30 hl/ha) that no doubt contribute to the wine's structural intensity. Vinified in cask, Thierry bottles the wine 12-18 months following the harvest.

Though I can't say for sure, everything about the wine — its look, smell, feel and taste — suggests that it sees an above average period of skin contact. It's not quite full-on orange wine to look at, but it's definitely richly golden, hinting at peachy in hue. That suggestion of peach (and peach blossoms) carries through on the nose and palate, too, along with intense mineral concentration and a slightly oxidative (not oxidized) character. Sticking my nose in the glass, I'm reminded of Lipton tea, of light orange marmalade, even of Tang. Above all, it makes me think of sucking on rocks — rocks that have been dipped in a bowl of melted orange creamsicles. In spite of all those sweet suggestions, the wine is completely dry. Its medium-bodied, medium-acidity structure carries through Puzelat's signature sweet funk, ending on a chalky, bracing finishing note.

When I met Thierry a few months back at The Ten Bells (where I snapped the photo at top right), he explained to me that some of his wines have indeed been declassified to Vin de Table status by the INAO for their supposed lack of "typicity." In most cases, though, they are labeled as Vin de Table simply because the wines are produced (vinified, cellared and bottled) outside of the area where they were grown and thus are not eligible for AOC designation. With this Romorantin, I believe the latter case is true. Either way, he's not worried about it, as he's built a strong enough reputation that his wines sell at full asking price, with or without an AOC on the label.


TWG said...

Now you're getting obscure, Romo from Puzelat?

David McDuff said...

Not intentionally obscure, Tom, just something I had in the cellar for a while and had been wanting to drink.

TWG said...

From the cellar, no wonder it's difficult to find.

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