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Chateau requests Bordeaux’s first-ever single-vineyard appellation

A 400-year-old Bordeaux property has applied for the creation of a single-vineyard appellation – the first of its kind in Bordeaux.

‘Based on geology’: Pascal and Jean-Pierre Amoreau

The owners of Chateau Le Puy, in AOC Francs Côtes de Bordeaux, have asked appellations body the INAO for the tiny AOC, which might be as precise as a single plot within a vineyard.

Jean-Pierre Amoreau and his son Pascal, whose family has owned the estate since 1610, applied in August 2011, and hope to have a successful result by 2014.

The 50ha Le Puy is within the 525ha of Francs Côtes de Bordeaux. A geological study by consultants Lydia and Claude Bourguignon identified a small plot of 5.6ha with a distinct limestone composition. It is this section that would become AOC Le Puy.

Amoreau is confident that his request is legally sound. All AOCs in France are required to have a quality charter, or Cahier de Charges, that details winemaking practice, and are also required to be checked by a local wine syndicate (now known as an ODG), and a quality control agency.

The Le Puy Cahier says it would be a certified-biodynamic AOC, with one hectare of wild flowers, hedgerow or forest for every hectare of vines.

There would be no chaptilisation or mechanical harvesting, no green harvesting and only natural yeasts. It would be its own ODG, but overseen by a number of regional experts.

‘This would be a first for Bordeaux to have a single chateau AOC,’ Amoreau told Decanter.com, ‘but I have identified a part of my vineyard which is entirely different from the surrounding terroir of the Francs appellation.’

The estate received a global boost when Japanese manga Drops of the Gods celebrated its 2003 vintage, but it has repeatedly run into problems with the local quality control agency, Quali’Bordeaux, at tastings tests for the wider Cotes de Bordeaux AOC.

‘The difficulties just underline for me why we need our own appellation,’ said Amoreau. ‘We are recognised for our excellent wine, and yet we are very different from the wine of our neighbours.

‘Often in Bordeaux it is more an administrative decision, based on communes. We want to take the approach of Burgundy, and make an appellation based on geology.’

Amoreau has the support of his neighbours in Francs Côtes de Bordeaux, who voted by a majority for Chateau le Puy to have its own AOC. There are only seven single-vineyard AOCs in France.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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