|Wow! Can it possibly be? Is Labor Day THIS weekend??!!?? That means that we are two weeks away from the landing of another container here at TWH. This container is carrying Bordeaux! In addition to the 2011’s on it, there will be a handful of petits chateaux, or value Bordeaux landing here as well. We look forward to telling you all about them when the time comes. In the meantime, from the container that just recently arrived, we are happy to present the latest releases from our pals Christophe and Bénédicte Piat and their Château Couronneau.
We’ve mentioned before that the Piats have been farming organically since 2001, and they have proudly sported the Agricole Biologique banner on the side of the driveway leading up to their chateau. In addition, Christophe and Bénédicte have been farming biodynamically for several vintages. I remember Christophe excitingly showing off his swirling fountains, bulls’ horns, and the like when I visited in 2011. One must practice this technique for several years before actual certification. The good news: Beginning with the 2012 vintage, they are now allowed the Demeter certification on their labels.
|Okay. Why biodynamism? What exactly is biodynamic farming? For more on that here’s what our colleague, Tom discovered:
“Biodynamics is a form of organic agriculture proposed in the 1920s by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. The core of biodynamics is creating healthy soils and a natural equilibrium between vineyards, the soil, surrounding environs, and even the cosmos. The most intriguing aspect of bio-farming is the mystical notion that natural timing and the rhythms of nature are the key to vineyard health. To accomplish this, biodynamic grape growers go beyond organic farming and feed the soil with complex organic preparations.
Key applications include horn-dung (manure packed in a bull’s horn and buried through winter) used as a soil spray to stimulate root growth. A second preparation, horn-silica, is made from powdered quartz (packed in a cow horn and buried in soil over the summer) then sprayed over the vineyard to enhance light and growth. Other preparations used in making compost aid the soil. Growers mix small amounts of the preparations in water to make these field sprays. Stirring, first one way and then another, creates a spiral vortex that takes in air and nature’s energy forces and is said to ‘dynamize’ the solution. These preparations are applied at different times of the year and at different times of the day and phases of the moon.
The amazing thing is, it seems to work. Biodynamic farming creates deep microbial life in the soil and fosters deep root growth. Deep, healthy roots absorb the minerals vital to strong vines and ultimately grapes with more flavor. Deep-rooted vines enable winemakers to express through their grapes wines with a sense of place.”
|Okay, about the new wines: When I visited this past spring, Christophe told me that for his 2013 Bordeaux Blanc, 70% of the fruit underwent malolactic fermentation, resulting in a fresher wine with a little more nerve than past vintages. It’s a lively and expressive blend of 50/50 Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, the latter providing the wine with roundness and body. Coming in at 12% alcohol, it’s an elegant wine; perfect for those who love a second glass of crisp White Bordeaux. For the 2012 Couronneau Rouge or “Classique,” it’s 100% Merlot, and is brimming with friendly, juicy fruit that speaks of its place of origin. Underneath the layers of red and purple fruit lie earthy tones and hints of forest floor. It’s an excellent example of the style of wine to expect from 2012 Red Bordeaux. Showing concentrated aromatics with juicy expression, the wines will provide pleasure early, yet have the structure to improve with medium term cellaring. For the 2012 Cuvée Pierre de Cartier, the Piats use fruit sourced from the oldest vines grown in limestone rich soils. The wine is inky purple, glass-staining, if you will. The aromas deep and lush with a little spice derived from time in barrique. On the palate, the wine is dense and concentrated, but has a silkiness to it that’s very pleasant. Definitely the prize of the Couronneau stable, the 2012 Pierre de Cartier is a people-pleaser for a very fair, direct-import price. If you’re planning to open it soon, decanting is advised. Otherwise, drink it over the next 10 years. – PZ|