Special BDX: Uchida, Ormiale, Library Le Puy

(Natural!) Bordeaux landings from two long-time shop faves, and an exciting new entry, have us reflecting on what keeps this region fresh on our minds.
It truly comes down to the producers who – deftly – cross the boundary between super classic and new wave. Bottles which appeal to lovers of old school Bordeaux and collectors of cult natural wine...

Most background around Fabrice Domerq’s Ormiale focuses on his successful art career and serendipitous entry into wine. It’s a rich story (well told here by Jancis Robinson) filled with a famous designer partner, a home in Entre-Deux-Mers and a learn-on-the-fly entrepreneurship.

But, what's sometimes missed when highlighting Domerq’s background is the incredibly high level of attention he pays to his vineyards and 16th-century limestone quarry-turned-cellar in St. Emilion.

His 2.5h of vines are Demeter-certified in some of the hardest areas to farm in all of Bordeaux (if you’ve been there you know the Côtes de Castillon is very wet and, unlike the famed left bank, rarely ever flat).

In the cellar Domerq’s wines are natural, yes. But to us they feel like the greatest Bordeauxs regardless of title. He references Petrus when deciding to hand de-stem all of the reds – an arduous process usually only seen by the best classified growth Bordeaux.

All hands on deck de-stemming at Ormiale 📷 by Jancis Robinson

The self-titled wines are his signature reds, and, where anyone should start with the lineup. Domerq also plays with new and experimental cuvées in extremely tiny quantities; this release includes a couple firsts with 'Mialbec' and 'Pressé':

2021 Ormiale, Bordeaux Superieur, France
(Also in magnum) 60/40 Cab Franc and Merlot which makes the flagship have more Cab Franc then Merlot for the first time.

2022 Ormiale 'James' Effervescent Naturel Vin de France, Bordeaux
Pet-Nat Rose, 90/10 Malbec and Merlot, disgorged just before release.

2021 Ormiale 'Lies' VDF, Bordeaux, France
Only 395 bottles made of this combo of lees and bourbes (leftover pomace) to create a new sparkling.

2019 Ormiale Borto, Vin de France
Dessert/Apertif wine, 50/50 Cab Franc and Merlot, manually destemmed, 16% abv, and made in a Rancio Sec style.

2022 Ormiale, 'Mialbec' Bordeaux Superieur, France
A new wine now that his son is joining him in the cellar, all Malbec fermented spontaneously in fiberglass containers and aged in 9 dames-jeannes in Fabrice’s Saint Emilion grotto.

2021 Ormiale, 'Pressé' Bordeaux Superieur, France
196 btls total production of a very special micro-cuvée varietal Merlot.

2021 Ormiale 'Secmillon' Blanc, Bordeaux, France
100% (distinctively dry) Sémillon that's barrel fermented and bottled without fining or sulfur.




For a primer on this biodynamic-before-Steiner estate, you can look no further than Eric Asimov's timeless writeup here. On a hill overlooking the legendary village of Saint-Émilion, the Amoreau family has achieved a true rarity (especially in Bordeaux): completely uninterrupted organic methods for 400 years and running.

We were lucky to be visited by 15th-generation Adrien Amoreau a couple weeks ago. And, even after so many years of love for these wines, we learned some new facts:

• Since the mid-20th century, the estate has firmly remained outside the formal appellation (hence the VdF labeling), challenging requirements on pergola training, lees stirring, and the post-war use of gunpowder in the vineyards

• The limestone runs 20cm deep, so much so that it can be difficult to stake the vines

• Pulling from biodynamic farming techniques, the family pioneered the concept of "dynamization" in the cellar: allowing for the lees to slowly settle through the wine and extract flavor and minerality in all directions (as opposed to the typical one-direction battonage method)

• The rosé began as a labor of love by Adrien's father - unsatisfied by the local style, he set out with a saignee method Merlot. It ultimately won over his skeptical grandfather and has since become an iconic cuvée of the estate

These wines continue to be high on our list, vintage after vintage. (And psst: we have several library release bottlings in stock):

2021 Chateau Le Puy 'Duc des Nauves', Cotes de Bordeaux
Truly one of the greatest entry-level Bordeaux (or honestly, French) bottles around: a biodynamic, pure-fruited, leather-scented Merlot/Cab Franc/Cab Sauvignon blend.

2022 Chateau le Puy Marie-Cecile Blanc, Francs Cotes de Bordeaux
Direct-press 100% Sémillon with incredible texture. No destemming, no added sulfur; it's at once exotically ripe, structured and mineral.

2022 Chateau le Puy Rose-Marie, Vin de France
Saignee rose from 100% Merlot that's perfumed, complex. There's an almost unctuous texture that's still sneakily grippy - rosé doesn't get more serious than this.

2016 Chateau le Puy 'Cuvee Emilien', Cotes de Francs, France
(Also in magnum) The flagship red, a blend of every plot and varietal; it used to be the estate's only bottling. Each vintage is comprised of Merlot (primarily), Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Malbec and Carménère - but each vintage the blending decision "belongs to nature" as Adrien put it. With a year in barrel, it's a beautifully earthy, strawberry jam and raw cocoa inflected bottle of pure Bordeaux.

If you love this estate as much as we do, don't sleep on the library releases from 1986, 1989, 1990, 2000, and 2005.




Osamu Uchida’s story is courageous. Originally from Japan and the son of a wine merchant, Uchida moved to France to explore the country’s wines and serendipitously found himself staying at a left bank estate (Domaine du Haut Brugas, which has sold since). It was here he was first exposed to natural winemaking, a jumping off point to working in Côte-Rôtie at Clusel-Roch, in Banyuls at Vial-Magnères, in Bordeaux at L’Arrivée Haut-Brion; plus oenology school to round out his experience.

Osamu Uchida 📷 via Avant Garde Wine & Spirits

And, after all of his travels and learnings, he landed confidently back in Bordeaux in 2006. He purchased a tiny home in Pauillac (technically on Mouton-Rothschild’s property!) and farms a forested 0.6ha of 30 year old Cabernet Sauvignon planted on 15 inches of sandy top soil over clay and limestone soil.

He’s slowly grown his holdings to 2.2ha and locked in a gentle philosophy in the cellar: all the wines are hand destemmed, with reds macerating for 2 weeks at cool temperature before being pressed. They’re raised in a mixture of tank, old wood and terracotta. Eventually bottled without fining, filtration and, depending on the cuvee, no-to-low sulfur.

Élevage at Domaine Uchida 📷 via Avant Garde

The result is a very pure expression Bordeaux with freshness seldom seen on the left bank:

2023 Osamu Uchida Pheromone Blanc, Bordeaux, Vin de France
Almost equal parts of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris without any wood, freshness matched nicely with it’s texture and length.

2023 Osamu Uchida Pheromone Rouge, Bordeaux, Vin de France
60/40 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, destemmed, macerated for 2 weeks followed by 4 months in stainless steel, no SO2 added.