It's not easy trying to be professional and having to run to the toilet every ten minutes and running fever. But such is the exciting life of an on-the-road wine journalist. Let's just say, due to the nasty bug that hitchhiked in me to France from Fez, by the time I hit the Puzelat's in Les Montils , I wasn't in the best of shape. My normally razor sharp brain and capacity for savvy questioning was more than modestly impaired.
It was mid-June and while many of the wines I’d tasted up to this point were all ready for bottling, the Puzelat wines were going through fermentation. Some malolactic fermentation had finished but alcoholics were still bubbling. This situation strikes fear in the hearts of new world winemakers. “It’s always a little scary, “ Thierry admitted, “but you just make many analysis and watch the wine carefully. “ He attributes the situation with a low quantity of yeast in 2005. Tasting wines in this awkward stage is always challenging but still, it is evident, 2005 was brilliant in the Loire.
Theirry told me the short story of his path to the vines. When he and brother, Jean Marie were young they hated working in their family vineyards. It was torture. "We hoped for rain, every day." But when he realized he was not the best academic in the world, he saw his last chance for school was for viticulture. He attended school in Burgundy and there, while putting together a tasting of iconoclastic wines for school, he went to ask Burgundy producer, Ramonet for samples.
Not only did he get samples but Ramonet asked Thierry what his birth year was, and gave him a bottle of 1966. And that was the wine that changed his life.
And as far as what put him on a natural wine making path? Seems all roads lead to Beaujolais producer Marcel Lapierre—the father of the sans soufre movement-- whom he met in 1992. Emblematic of most great wine producers, and there are plenty in the Loire, Thierry said, "We never think about the market. Only what makes better wine. An natural wines are better. But you must have patience. You just can't make a 'natural' wine for the market. It's too much work.”
You would think, but I say, never underestimate the power of marketing think tanks.