COTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC CHATEAU PUECH HAUT TETE DE BELIER (MAGNUM) - 2010

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LANGUEDOC - COTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC - BLANC - Note Parker : 89+ WS=ND
LES CUVÉES PUECH HAUT Le vignoble compte aujourd’hui quelque 115 hectares de vigne. Il bénéficie d’un climat méditerranéen très favorable sur des sols constitués d’argile, de calcaire et couverts de galets roulés, les mêmes que l’on trouve à Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Les cépages, sélectionnés pour leur adéquation avec le terroir (Syrah et grenache en tête), sont cultivés selon des principes raisonnés sans désherbants chimiques et les vendanges y sont effectuées manuellement et à parfaite maturité. Les vinifications, en barriques et cuves de bois selon la couleur, se font cépages séparés, pour préserver toute leur typicité. L’élevage, enfin, qui se fait en barrique, répond à des critères qui impriment une singularité étonnante aux vins du domaine. Un domaine qui par bien des aspects force l’admiration au regard de la façon dont le caractère du terroir s’exprime dans ses vins, et qui s’impose comme une valeur sûre du Languedoc. Gault Millau Vin 2009 : Remarquable «Très ambitieux, Gérard Bru a mis les grands moyens pour installer Puech-Haut au zénith des vins du Languedoc...» Robert Parker : Domaine classé dans les Meilleurs Producteurs du Languedoc (catégorie ***/**** Bon/Excellent) « Avec l’appui du grand œnologue Michel Rolland, M. Bru s’est fixé pour objectif d’élaborer les plus grands vins de la région. ». Les cuvées de Puech Haut qui ont reçu de nombreuses distinctions tel que la distinction international du Roussanne Trophy font de ce vignoble un des fleurons du Languedoc Roussillon. Tête de bélier Blanc Charme, opulent, élégance, longueur en bouche. Les raisins ramassés manuellement très tôt le matin sont rafraîchis à 7°, pressurés et vinifiés en barriques neuves de 225 l. Après fermentation, l élevage de 6 mois s effectue sur lie avec bâtonnage quotidien le premier mois puis hebdomadaire. L assemblage repose essentiellement sur la Roussane. Les assemblages sont en moyene composés de : - 70% de Roussanne - 20% de Marsanne - 10% de Grenache Blanc Le cycle d élevage est de 1 an . Vin à consommer dans les 3 à 5 ans. Source : Chateau Puech-Haut. 88-89+/100 - Puech-Haut’s white 2010 Coteaux du Languedoc Saint-Drezery Tete de Belier - which I tasted assembled from tank - introduced 20% of new demi-muid to the usual older-barrel rotation of this blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, and Carignan Blanc. Honeydew, Persian melon, and quince take on a tart hint of green apple; bitterness of apple pip; and sizzle of lime zest on a lush yet juicy palate, for a slightly discordant effect. This situation isn’t helped by a bit of finishing warmth from 14.5% alcohol, but as Bru and Ciampi point out, given a pathetically low 15 hectoliter per hectare yield on their Roussanne and Marsanne, high-alcohol was practically unavoidable. This may just need a bit more time to knit itself; certainly the individual parts are impressively intense; the ripe melon and quince flavors flatteringly generous; and the underlying alternation of textural creaminess with vivacious juiciness has the makings of balance on an even higher order than exhibited by the corresponding 2009. But however this turns out, I expect it will be best drunk over the next 12-18 months. I tasted the latest releases from Gerard Bru’s ambitious Chateau Puech-Haut with him; his hands-on cellarmaster Mathieu Ciampi; and a frequent inspiration and coach in matter vinous who since 2009 is the estate’s official enologist - Philippe Cambie. (Before that, Claude Gros advised here, and for a time, too, Michel Rolland.) The rotund devotee and guru of Chateauneuf has brought to these wines his flamboyant style and penchant for as he puts it “the maximum ripeness consistent with elegance.” There will certainly be differences of opinion as to whether the word “elegant” fits; and the wines succeed in varying degrees, largely according to whether new wood or alcoholic heat at all detract from other features, but there can be no doubt that the wines of Puech-Haut - like the men behind them - are both generous and formidable. And as often happens to me, amid wines of more lavish elevage, I found their ostensibly intro-level cuvee (now dubbed “Prestige”) more than held its own, resulting in outstanding value. Fermentation has moved entirely into enamel-lined tanks (albeit wood-paneled!) - the huge oaken tronconique having for some years now been “just for decoration” - and this step was undertaken not just on account of perceived thermal or hygienic advantages, but so as to accommodate the separate vinification of each parcel of this 250 acre estate. Much of the black fruit here is being left whole with its stems, while fermentative extraction was described to me as moving toward “infusion” and away from extensive punch-downs or pump-overs. More than once I heard allusions to Burgundy or to allegedly “Burgundian” approaches, although - abstracting from the prominence of barriques in their elevage - Chateauneuf-du-Pape would seem the more obvious analogy for these wines, not least now, given Cambie’s collaboration. Half of the elevage of the 2010 vintage - hence, encompassing the majority of red wines - was being carried out without sulfur, but even so, many lots were still in malo when I visited in April. To the extent that this vintage’s youthful red raw material could be assessed - with low sulfur admittedly coloring one’s impression - these will be extremely ripe and rich, often downright liqueur-like and frequently seductively floral wines for their vintage. The last grapes weren’t harvested until November 6, yet the team here made clear that they viewed the presence of “freshness” to accompany all that richness a great virtue of the 2010 vintage. That noted, the most successful of Puech-Haut’s many bottlings from torrid 2009 - which include several new, roughly 230-case, site-specific and single-cepage lots - have also managed to preserve a welcome degree of freshness. As for 2008, this is a vintage without any Pic Saint-Loup bottling as Bru and his team decided that the best they could do still did not make the grade, although their Saint-Drezery cuvees are highly satisfying, if less ambitious or seductive than their 2009 counterparts. Special note should be taken of the improvement shown here in recent white wines, the team having been at pains to capture freshness as well as richness by whole cluster pressing to tank or directly to barrel, and permitting the lees to work their magic undisturbed. (I exempt from that optimistic assessment a one-barrique, no-sulfur 2010 Viognier with strong scents of new wood and oxidation but not much, as far as I could detect, of Viognier!) Source : Robert Parker