Natural Pool in the Minervois vines

August 14, 2010

My good friends Denis (right) and Sophie Morin have 127 hectares of garrigue and vineyards in the beautiful Minervois countryside.  Their prize-winning Minervois reds and rosés alone are worth a visit to the Morin’s winery La Villatade and you can stay for a night or two (or longer) in their beautiful rooms and cottages within the Chateau’s age-worn walls.  This harvest time you’ll be able to pick a few grapes and cool down afterwards in their latest attraction: a natural bathing pool (below) created within an ancient stone cistern, right in the middle of the vineyard.

For information about staying at Chateau La Villatade click here…


Wines of La Tuilerie in Cavendish Square

March 14, 2010

Chateau de la Tuilerie is the family wine estate of Chantal Comte, a progressive and charismatic winemaker with a passion for art and culture. This month Chantal’s daughter Diane is hosting a tasting of Tuilerie’s wines on the 25th of March in London’s Cavendish Square. You can sample the delightful Costières de Nîmes reds, whites and rosés at the Maison de la région Languedoc Roussillon:

Thusday 25th of March from 2pm to 7pm, 6 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PD


Château de la Tuilerie ‘Grenache Blanc, Viognier’ 2008 Costières de Nîmes

Northerly Mistral winds and sea breezes from the coastal plain cool the vines and create the fresh, lively character of this grenache/viognier blend. Aromas of white blossom, peach and pear-drops leap out of the glass.

For details of staying at Tuilerie’s sumptuous Bastide de Fabrègues click here.

Vignerons at the launch of French Vineyards

November 5, 2009


Bloomsbury, October 28th. A warm evening brought fourteen award-winning winemakers to the October Gallery’s art festooned salons and courtyard to celebrate the launch of French Vineyards.  Seduced by the aromas of over 50 different fine wines, the 150 or so guests came from near and far to toast the success of the book. The vignerons included:

Mathieu Mélinand (Domaine des Marrans, Fleurie)

Vincent Rapin [photo] (Domaine Valmengaux, Bordeaux)

Pascal Méli (Ch. Bujan, Côtes de Bourg)

Jacquie Franc de Ferrière (Ch. de Carbonneau, Sainte-Foy de Bordeaux)

Helen Kelly (Ch. Claribès, Sainte-Foy de Bordeaux)

Laurence Ployez (Maison Ployez-Jacquemart, Champagne)

Jonathan James (Domaine Saint Hilaire, Languedoc)

Jorje Maslakiewicz (Domaine Saint Ferréol, Languedoc)

Chantal Comte [photo] (Ch. de la Tuilerie, Costières de Nimes)

Paul Uhart (Ch. Lavanau, Côte de Duras)


…and representatives from Ch. Franc Pourret (Saint Emilion Grand Cru), Domaine Gayda (Languedoc), Ch. La Villatade (Minervois) and Clos de Caveau (Vacqueyras)

…plus a groaning tasting table of wines from Domaine Horcher (Alsace), Domaine Agapé (Alsace), Domaine de la Chapel de Vatre (Beaujolais Villages), Ch. Saint Robert (Graves), Domaine Désertaux-Ferrand (Côtes de Nuits and Meursault 1er cru), Anne Gros (Clos Vougeot grand cru), Ch. Haute Fontaine (Corbières), Mas du Soleilla (La Clape), Domaine Saint Luc (Côtes du Rhone Villages) and Saint Estève de Néri (Luberon).

My thanks go to all of the above plus Alastair Sawday [photo] and his talented, hard-working team who hosted the soirée so well.


Mas du Soleilla wins International Trophy

October 24, 2009


Congratulations to Swiss winemakers Peter Wildbolz and Christa Derungs for winning three Decanter World Wine Awards this year including the International Trophy for their 2007 Les Bartelles, La Clape.  I’ve yet to taste the ’07 but the older vintages are superb – the vines are picked by hand, the grapes are transported in small baskets and finally sorted by hand in Peter’s chai on this ‘sunny hill’ above Narbonne Plage.  Read the judges’ tasting notes on all three winning wines on  A full tasting note for Les Bartelles to follow…

For more information about staying at Mas du Soleilla click here

IMG_5599-1Bringing in the 2008 harvest, Mas du Soleilla.

Bacchus’s Bucket

October 31, 2008

Harvesting the last mourvèdre grapes at Faugères 4th October.

The lovers of La Vigneronne

October 31, 2008
On the edge of the village of Faugères stands an impressive 19th century ‘Vigneronne’ or winemaker’s house which is so much more than its name implies. Belgian couple, Christian and Régine Godefroid, have restored and extended the property which now houses the winery and cellars plus a wine boutique and five smart-rustic chambres d’hôte rooms. Régine is an impeccable host and her regional table d’hôte cooking is delicious. Christian’s vineyards are on higher ground just outside the village where he cultivates 5 hectares of grenache, syrah, mourvèdre and grenache blanc vines. The white grenache ‘Soif de Toi’ is a fresh, floral wine whose clean palate and notes of lime blossom make a perfect accompaniment to Régine’s warm salad of Pelardon goat’s milk cheese with garlic, thyme and honey. The red ‘de Chair et de Sang’ (60% mourvèdre, 40% grenache) is full of aromatic concentrated fruit and an elegant minerality coming from the micaceous subsoil hereabouts. Good food, fine wines, a wonderful house full of charm and hospitality all surrounded by the pretty hills of Faugères; the Godefoids fell in love with La Vigneronne and so do their guests.
La Vigneronne, Faugères.

With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown – Chinese Proverb

October 31, 2008
It’s not easy to summarize the renaissance, since 2002, of this beautiful domaine and its wines. Coups de coeur and triple stars from the Guide Hachette and several medailles d’or celebrate the quality and consistency of Jonathan and Anne James’s excellent Vin de Pays. In spite of the odd setback (the roof of the winery collapsed in the winter of 2004!) they have transformed the property into a stunning chambres d’hôtes and themselves into successful winemakers. The James’s have forty-five hectares under vine which are cultivated ‘à la lutte raisonnée’ and the fruit is handpicked for the top cuvées. Jonathan’s apprenticeship in the cellar included working with no less than two Masters of Wine; his range of high quality reds, whites and rosés are exported to the UK, Germany, Japan and Benelux. The cabernet/merlot ‘Advocate’ 2004 Vin de Pays d’Oc is a spicy fresh Bordeaux blend with a superb level of fruit, bags of regional character and a long, blackberry finish. Spend a couple of nights here, sample the top cuvée ‘Silk’ and discover the delights of the reverse infinity pool.

Domaine Saint Hilaire, Montagnac.