Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thierry Puzelat’s Gamay "Pouillé"

Intent on getting a better understanding of the wines of Thierry Puzelat, I bought a slew of them a few months back. Well laid plans of drinking them each in consecutive fashion (not on one night, mind you) didn’t quite work out, so I’ve instead been checking in with them rather randomly, whenever time, spirit and menu have aligned. The most recent subject was very much to my liking.

Touraine Gamay "Pouillé," Thierry Puzelat 2006
$18. 13% alcohol. Cork. Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.
Relative to “Le Tel Quel,” which I’ve written about here before, “Pouillé” is arguably Thierry Puzelat’s more serious – perhaps substantial would be a better word – expression of Gamay. In this case, the fruit comes from Puzelat’s own vineyards, which he purchased from Michel Oger. Situated near Clos Roche Blanche in the commune of Pouillé, the 65 year-old selection massale Gamay vines are planted in argilo-silex (clay and flint) soil that’s been farmed biodynamically for the past fifteen years. Following fermentation, the wine is aged in old oak casks until bottling, without filtration, in the summer following the harvest.

I dug its initial aromas – classic to many of Puzelat’s reds in my experience – of fresh, sweet barnyard, root beer and spice, and sweet, dark red fruits. Very ample in the mouth, where the sweet fruit followed through. And very unlike fruity-style Beaujolais (whereas “Telquel” bears a strong family resemblance). Its richness was buoyed by snappy acidity and a little prickle on the tongue. On day two, that kernel of bright, sweet red fruit persisted, bearing Gamay’s signature along the way. That said, if I’d tasted this blind, between the wine’s rich texture and dark aroma I’d have guessed there was some Côt at play. Though subtler and not as energetic in its second day, its details – perhaps because of that calmer state – were a bit easier to assess. Soft tannins, medium acidity, plenty of spicy red fruit and those trademark sweet-earth aromas, which this time reminded me of moist licorice root mulch.

Though perhaps an unusual expression of Gamay, this bottle of “Pouillé” was unmistakably alive – and very definitely a pure expression of its origins.


Joe Manekin said...

Haven't had the Pouillé before. Sounds like a must try. In other Puzelat news, I recently wrote up the '07 Brin de Chevre (Menu pineau) and quite liked it. The write-up, though concise, did not really convey the qualities of the wine nearly as well as your in-depth note on the Pouillé.

Care to trade some verbosity for brevity?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the wine and thanks for the tasting notes, Puzelat is right at the top of the list of producers getting it done that I can actually afford. A few months back i had the pleasure of trying a bottle of Thierry's vin nouveau made from gamay. It was remarkably precise and very unlike his other offerings, and really showed off the range that the Loire is capable of. Joe - The menu pineau was excellent.

David McDuff said...

I'm up for a trade, Joe. I've actually had fun reading the one (and three) word reviews that Lyle, Cory and you've been doing. My verbosity on the blog is in direct counterpoint to my stoicism in person, so I should be able to flip and write some "shorts."

Agreed on the value of Puzelat's wines -- one of the best under $20 ranges out there. I'm guessing you're referring to "Le Tel Quel"... I didn't realize at the time of my write-up of Telquel that there are two versions: one released en primeur in November and the other (which is called "Le P'tit Tannique Coule" on the French market) the same wine after several moths of aging.

The menu pineau is up soon....

Anonymous said...

The nouveau was actually the en primeur bottling from tue bouef that was brought back from france by a friend. As far as I know it isn't available on the American market. The tel quel is one of my "house" bottles along with the cot. Enjoy the menu pineau, but make sure you have it with food, as the acid is really bracing.

David McDuff said...

Thanks for the follow-up, Cory. For some reason, I wasn't even thinking of the Tue Boeuf wines when I guessed Tel Quel.... And thanks for the heads-up on the Menu Pineau, though it shouldn't be an issue as it's rare that I open anything at home unless food is involved. Any specific pairing suggestions?

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