Clos Puy Arnaud
Bordeaux is full of dynasties, some of huge historical significance – the Ségur family perhaps – whereas others are more prominent in Bordeaux’s modern tale. The Valette family fall into the latter group, and the dynasty begins with Alexandre Valette, originally a wine merchant from St-Ouen near Paris. Although he already owned property in Bordeaux, it was only in 1936 that he acquired his first vineyard, Château Troplong-Mondot, and perhaps flushed with success in 1943 he went on to acquire another, Château Pavie. Upon Alexandre’s death in 1957 the family holdings were divided, with Troplong-Mondot passing to a grandson Claude, before Christine Valette subsequently took control. At Pavie it was another grandson Jean-Paul that was the beneficiary, the estate then passing to his son Patrick, before he eventually sold up and moved to Chile, the new proprietor being the indefatigable Gerard Perse.
The little story above is well known, and already well described in my Pavie and Troplong-Mondot profiles. There is more to the Valette dynasty than this vignette might suggest though, as Jean-Paul and Claude are not the only grandsons of Alexandre Valette that should concern us. There is another descendent of Alexandre who has a role to play in Bordeaux’s story. The great-grandson in question is Thierry Valette, and he has been proprietor, vigneron and winemaker at Clos Puy Arnaud, to the east of St Emilion in Castillon, since 2000.