The Amoreau family began making wine at Bordeaux’s Château Le Puy in 1610, near the hillsides of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion. While it’s not one of the typically prestigious names in Bordeaux, Château Le Puy has a long history and a fascinating legacy in biodynamic wine production, and is becoming recognised as one of the most overlooked estates in the region.
Brothers Pascal, Francoise and Jean-Pierre are the 15th generation of the Amoreau family and now they now run the chateau together. The trio takes their winemaking seriously and have continued the family’s tradition of applying new methods to wine production.
The estate is now spread across three plots, totalling 35 hectares and many vines are more than 50 years old.
In the 1920s, Jean Amoreau modified his traditional winemaking approach by selecting only the finest fruit and destemming the grapes before vinification, which significantly reduced bitterness. In the 1930s, Robert Amoreau introduced the “chapeau immerge” extraction method.
In the 1990s, Château Le Puy introduced sulphite-free vinification, using only carefully selected grapes. There were no added sugars or yeasts and the wine was matured in oak barrels for two years, with the lunar calendar determining the monthly stirring schedule. There was no filtration or fining before bottling, which again is done in alignment with the lunar calendar. The wine is tasted weekly to monitor its development. This approach was implemented across the full harvest from the 1998 vintage and has been Demeter certified as biodynamic since 2013.The brothers are moving towards permaculture based on the writings of the celebrated Japanese farmer-philosopher Masonobu Fukuoka.
Because of its unique approach to vinification, Château Le Puy has been refused the right to its local AOC several times because it is ‘atypical’ for the region. This is a point of pride for Jean-Pierre Amoreau and in fact he’s been battling for his own appellation for a distinctive part of the estate since 2011, but without success thus far.
The wines can mature for decades with vintages from the 1920s and 1930s still drinking incredibly well. Each wine is named after historical Amoreau family members.
“This is surely one of Bordeaux's most overlooked wine estates.” Jane Anson, Decanter