2011 Chateau Le Puy BarthélemyRosenthal
When drinking a Bordeaux as alive, as seamless, as the 2015 “Emilien” from Château Le Puy, it’s difficult to believe that the estate makes an even greater wine—but they do. Produced from the Amoreau family’s highest-altitude vineyard, “Barthélemy” (named after the ancestor who built the current-day château back in the early 19th century) is released significantly later than Emilien, and displays a purity and complexity that induces shivers. The plot “Les Rocs” from which Barthélemy hails sits just in front of the château itself, and its clay topsoil—a mere twelve-inch layer atop the Astrée limestone mother-rock—was evaluated by noted soil scientist Claude Bourgignon as containing more than three times the microbial life than that of a typical French vineyard. The current release of Barthélemy, from the 2011 vintage, is breathtaking, embodies that same gorgeous wildness—that same unadulterated glimpse into a halcyon pre-technologically-obsessed, pre-point-chasing Bordeaux—yet with even greater depth and intensity. Aromas soar, and the wine possesses a sense of lift far, far from the leaden heft of overly pushed modern Bordeaux. Fruits are red, and tangy, and impossibly vivid, as if presented with carefully opened palm for the taster to bite right into. A profound sense of fresh, vibrant minerality suffuses the whole affair, adding its own dimension of lift and balancing the subtly earthy, slightly savory depths the wine plumbs. Barthélemy is not inexpensive, but it is worth every penny, and if you are already in love with Emilien—or you just want to experience a very particular apex of Bordeaux—you must try it.