Clos Puy Arnaud, 2013 Update

During the past year I have seen nothing to dissuade me of my belief that Castillon is one of the most valuable appellations for those looking for ‘drinking’ Bordeaux, as opposed to ‘investing’ or ‘second-mortgage’ Bordeaux. Situated on the same limestone plateau, and benefiting from the same soils, aspect and climate as St Emilion, there is certainly untapped potential here. If we remind ourselves that the vineyards that now provide the majority of the fruit for Château Valandraud – now ranked as a premier grand cru classé – are located right on the edge of the St Emilion appellation, we should immediately be wondering exactly what is on the other side of the boundary, in Castillon.

Clos Puy Arnaud

There are a myriad of domaines here, and numerous different styles. The wines of Château d’Aiguilhe say more about the taste preferences of Comte Stephan von Neipperg and Stéphane Derenoncourt than the appellation I think, being dark, bold and richly fashioned. Derenoncourt’s Domaine de L’A is cut from the same cloth, as is the wine made by Simon Blanchard at Château La Croix Lartigue, perhaps unsurprising when we consider that Simon is one of Stéphane Derenoncourt’s more experienced vineyard consultants. A different style can be found at Domaine L’Aurage, where Louis Mitjavile – son of François Mitjavile of Château Tertre-Roteboeuf – makes something that resembles his father’s wine much more than those of his neighbours. A third style comes from Thierry Valette, of Clos Puy Arnaud, where Bordeaux meets biodynamics. The fruit character here is pure and crystalline, the wood influence increasingly restrained by the use of cement for élevage as well as fermentation, although the wines do still have a tendency to show some gamey, clove-tinged spiciness at times.

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