A drop of France in a glass of wine

We have officially entered the month of autumn and I wonder when time has passed so quickly. Forced by circumstances, I gave up small pleasures, such as wine tastings, a very special moment for me because every time it actually meant a reconnection with acquaintances in the field and with friends. When I chose to write these lines I did it in a less usual way, I gave up the comfort of the living room and escaped to the place where I had the opportunity to taste some French wines that unleashed the pleasure for life and made me remember the times before the pandemic.

The wines that I had the opportunity to taste with only a few friends, because we had to respect the regulations, have some special characteristics and I want to tell you about each one of them. Thanks to the kindness of the owner Nicholas Thienpont, we managed to capture the essence of sunny France in a few glasses with stories about the winery and wines. I think that every wine has a story behind it that must be told because the story will remain for centuries, even if time is passing and leaves us only with memories.

Let’s start this enchanting journey through France with the first two wines, white and rose from the Chateau Puygueraud vineyard. The vineyard is located on a rocky plateau with an absolutely superb view of the Dordogne valley, a breath taking panorama. Today in the vineyard we will find 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and only 5% Malbec, the white wines being represented by of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris.

As a family originally from Flanders, they have dedicated their passion for wine to turning the magical liqueur into an emblem of this area since 1981 when it actually began the transition from production-oriented viticulture to one of excellence, which is maintained also today, and since 2009 and until now Nicolas Thienpont with his father have managed to become an appellation for the Francs Côtes-de-Bordeaux area.

Chateau Puygueraud Blanc is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris obtained by light pressing after manual harvest. I must admit that it is an extremely lively wine, from the first sip you can taste even exotic floral notes with an intense minerality and an acidity that can be slightly high for personal taste, but of course it can be suitable for people who love this dominated acidity but also the flower notes.

We switched for the second wine of the evening to a Chateau Puygueraud Rose and I must admit that without a doubt I categorized it as a perfect wine for summer but also for autumn evenings still penetrated by the heat of the sun. With subtle but well-defined notes and a delicate but persistent taste, this wine is a story from well-grown and delicately picked Merlot grapes, as is this wine.

Chateau LaClaverie 2014 was the first wine from the red range. The vineyard was renovated by George Thienpont in the 70s and later became the property of his son Nicolas in 1984. Although it does not cover a large area, namely 7 hectares, we are talking especially about the peculiarity of this area and the soil, limestone-clay on clay with marl and asteriated limestone. We are talking about a wine obtained 100% from Merlot grapes. In the vinification part, things become interesting because it is done by extraction and subsequent pumping, the maturation taking place in concrete tanks with thermo-regulation for a period of 12-16 months, the aging being carried out by nano oxygenation.

We all know that wine unties the tongue and challenges us to tell stories. From that moment, the stories of the evening were much more lively and laughter takes the place of serious faces because wine means first of all relaxation.

Chateau Les Charmes-Godard 2016 comes from the vineyard of the same name purchased by Nicolas Thienpont in 1988, a vineyard that stretches over 8 hectares and is 40 years old. The wine is extremely velvety with a special fruity peculiarity and definitely makes you want it as such or in the company of some fine dishes. Obtained from 100% Merlot grapes, the wine welcomes you delicately but well-structured with well-balanced tannins. The vinification part starts from the reception of the grapes, sorting, destemming, but without crushing, the extraction is done by pumping over. Aging takes place in concrete tanks by controlling the oxygen supply for a period of 15 months, followed by the reduction on fine yeasts. 

„My only regret in life is that I did not drink more wine.” – Ernest Hemingway

We stayed in the red wine area with Chateau Puygueraud 2014 that comes from the vineyard purchased by Nicolas Thienpont in 1946 after replanting the vineyard in the late 70’s. The wine consists of an interesting blend that gives it a special flavor, 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and only 5% Malbec. Vinification takes place in concrete tanks but also in stainless steel by mixing whole grapes and pumping over. It is aged in a barrel of 225 l for a period of 12-16 months.

The last wine of the evening, Chateau Alcee 2016 is true pleading about wine. It is important to be in the right company with stories that will develop during a beautiful evening. I can say with all my heart that this wine is a story. Velvety and delicate with well-balanced tannins that challenge you to enjoy it for a long time, with a dense texture that challenges us to discover its secrets and enjoy the minerality of this blend of 92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. The vinification method is at least interesting by mixing whole grapes in concrete tanks and using the procedure of pumping over. Maturation takes place in 225L and 500L barrels partially renewed every year.

Wine is like love. It urges you to get lost in passion, to get lost in a dance of love, it makes you want more and makes you want to enjoy it in the right company. French wines have a special feeling and I wish you, the reader, to have the opportunity to taste Nicolas Thienpont’s wines to feel the magic of sunny France in a wine glass.

Text by Yle Bocu

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