The smallest of the Bordeaux appellations – 450 hectares – resembles a small independent state and occupies the highest slopes of the Gironde, halfway between the valleys of the Isle and the Dordogne, to the east of Saint Emilion. Polyculture leaves its mark everywhere and prairies, cereals and vines intermingle. Created in 1967, the appellation is very much part of the Bordelais family, its wines having the precision of the best Bordeaux. Humble pearl of the Bordelais vineyards, the Cotes de Francs is nevertheless one of its most precious stones.
One name and one family have contributed to the breakthrough of the appellation: the “Thienpont tribe”. This family of negociants, originating in Oudenaarde (Flanders) also owns Vieux Chateau Certan, one of the best-known chateaus in Pomerol.
The patriarch, George Thienpont, bought Chateau Puygueraud, which dominates the whole appellation, in 1946. Upon his arrival he found the vineyards in ruins and set about revitalising them through the planting of cereals and raising of cattle. It was only at the end of the 1970s that he began replanting the vineyards and in 1983, the first wine was produced. Today, the chateau produces three wines: Chateau Puygueraud, Chateau Lauriol and Cuvée George and it is one of George’s sons, Nicolas, who manages the vinification at the different properties.
Chateau Puygueraud is produced mainly from Merlot with, however, a proportion of Cabernet that is quite high for the region as well as a touch of Malbec with its peppery character. In 2005, all the Cabernet Sauvignon was pulled up and Cabernet Franc was planted in its place. This variety ripens earlier and is better suited to the terroir of the Cotes de Francs. The Cuvée George is produced in small quantities and, without being a “prestige” cuvee, is a nod to George Thienpont who appreciated cabernets and malbec. Unusually, it is a blend of 35% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, thus giving it great individuality of expression at a time when many wines seem to becoming more and more similar in style. Chateau Lauriol is principally the second wine of Château Puygueraud, made from the younger vines on the property.
Images Chateau Puygueraud