Clos du Tue-Boeuf – A natural wine legend from Loire

Thierry Puzelat and his brother Jean-Marie have for a long time been leading figures in the natural wine making scene in Loire. They have also received great acknowledgements for their wines that have been served in some of the top restaurants in the world, including Noma.

A discussion with Thierry is both entertaining and educational, since he is a very open and direct person with a fantastic knowledge and experience of wine making. He also has a great drive for trying new things and experimenting. A visit to the Domaine is also an excellent opportunity to try a huge variety of different grapes.

One of the wines we tried came from a quite recent experiment with Amfora vats where Thierry vinified Pinot Noir grapes. Just like wooden vats, the Amfora vats breathes and lets through some air which affects the maturation process. For the first batch vinified with this method he used extremely long maceration times, approximately 5 months, which has resulted in a quite harsh and very tannic wine. In the next vintage the maceration times will be reduced to find more balance and elegance.

Thierry Puzelat

Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat today control 16 hectars of which they own 10 hectars in Cheverny and rent another 6 hectars in Touraine. In these vineyards they grow a wide variety of grapes, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gamay, Côt (Malbec), Pinot Noir, but also more local and less famous grapes like Menu Pineau.

The vineyards are organically grown and they have tried biodynamic methods, but because of limited effects in the output, today the only use biodynamic methods selectively. Thierry also told us about an experiment where they harvested grapes at different days, following recommendations from the Lunar calendar, to see if there was a difference in the end results. When trying the wines they could not notice a clear difference, but Thierry also points out that this was a quite small experiment.

The wines we tasted

CLOS DU TUE-BOEUF

Le P’tit Blanc du Tue-Boeuf 2013

This is a Sauvignon blanc where they have added 25 mg of sulfur and filtered the wine.

A very flourish nose with some apple and other fruit in the background. Very fresh and pure expression. The taste follows a similar style and is complemented by a clear and precise acidity.

Not the most complex wine but it has precision and energy.

89p/100

Le Brin de Chevre 2013

Menu Pineau from 85 year old vines. The wine has aged one year in cask, on the lees, and no sulfur has been used.

Very generous nose with quite ripe fruit, mainly pears and some citric notes but also clear notes of flint and minerals. The same notes are also carried over into the taste where some hints of wood also can be found. The acidity is quite high.

This is a quite fleshy wine with a strong personality and lots of grip.

86p/100

Le Buisson Pouilleux 2013

Same process as the Le P’tit Blanc du Tue-Boeuf but using older vines.

Starts off with quite classical Sauvignon blanc notes but not overpowered with nettles. Nice juicy fruit, mainly apples but also quite a lot of lime and other citric fruit. The taste is very similar and is backed up with a precise acidity and some mineral notes. This is a rather fleshy wine for a Sauvignon blanc.

A fantastic Sauvignon blanc that feels typical for the region where we have tried several other Sauvignon blanc that are rather fleshy and citric.

91p/100

Rouillon 2013

Named after the vineyard Rouillon and contains a mix of grapes, which changes depending on vintage. This vintage is Pinot Noir and Gamay, approximately 50% each. The vineyard has chalky soil, which gives high acidity.

We find lots of raspberries and young red fruit and perfume in this beautiful and quite expressive nose. The same fruit is found on the palate but it gets a bit darker and there is also an earthiness to it. The acidity is quite powerful, and there are good tannins that provide backbone and structure.

The wine is not perfectly balanced at the moment since the acidity dominates to a great extent. Still it is a generous wine with good personality.

88p/100

La Gravotte 2013

Pinot noir from soils of clay and flint.

Quite fruity nose with lots of raspberries, strawberries and some hints of wood glue.
The wine is surprisingly tannic but otherwise has some burgundic notes with both elegance and complexity.

We find some sweetness in the relatively short finish.

91p/100

La Caillère 2013

Pinot noir from soil of clay, sand and gravel, three weeks of maceration and on lees until bottling.

Quite dark colour for a Pinot noir. The wine has a nose with earthy notes but also some red fruit. We find raspberries (almost a bit sour, but not unpleasant), game and iron. On the palate the fruit takes a step forward, and is complemented with some herbs and mint. Again rather earthy.

The finish is surprisingly short considering the quite expressive nose and palate. This is a generous Pinot noir with lots of character.

92p/100

Le Guerrerie 2013

2/3 Côt and 1/3 Gamay, all from the same vineyard.

This wine has a great nose with dense notes of dark and red fruit. On the palate blueberries and cherries dominate this very fruity palate, which also has a good and slightly sandy tannic structure.

This wine is more about generosity and is very easy to enjoy.

89p/100

Summary

The wines from Clos du Tue-Boeuf are in general rather expressive, fleshy and with strong personality. They contain quite a lot of fruit, which is complemented by both a good acidity and some earthy notes for the red. These are wines that pair well with food.

For someone who likes Burgundy wines it is also interesting to follow their development with the Pinot noir wines.

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