The end of the year is often a time to indulge in reflection. To consider what you’ve learnt, what you’ve tasted. What winey delights did 2015 give you? I’d rather not attempt to count the number of wines I have tasted, presented and drunk in the last twelve months (my doctor might be reading this) instead I’d like to reflect on a wine discovery which made me consider very seriously my wine prejudices.
A friend of mine asked me to make a detour whilst on holiday in France to visit British friends of hers making wine in Beaujolais. This isn’t a favourite wine of mine, I almost never drink it, but it wasn’t far out of my way and, whatever I think about the wine, the area is stunning. Lucky for me, so was the wine. This wasn’t any old Beaujolais, of course, this was Cru Beaujolais – basically, the good stuff – from Morgon called Château Grange Cochard. Owned and run by James and Sarah Wilding, the vines are situated all around the château in an ideal plot with spectacular views wherever you look.
The Wildings, who bought the property in 2008, are totally hands on. From working the vineyard, hand-picking the grapes and getting stuck in in the winery, their wines are (horrible and over-used but totally accurate term in this case) hand-crafted. The vines, as per the appellation requirements, are Gamay, many of them seriously old. Older vines, considered old at around 25+ years, are deemed to produce fewer but better quality grapes. The Wildings have a plot where the average age of the vineyard is 60/70 years with many vines being over a 100. This factor, along with very selective picking and further careful grape selection at the triage table, the only one in the area, and well-planned well-managed wine-making in old 3000 litres foudres and 228 litres barriques mean that the wines are truly first-class. It is not surprising that they have won many accolades and awards.
Only three wines are produced: Morgon Vieilles Vignes, Les Charmes and Côte du Py, the flagship wine from the superior volcanic Py hillside, and although all vary in structure, texture and taste they have in common a classy freshness, silkiness and purity about them. The Vieilles Vignes can be drunk young whilst the other two, unlike many Beaujolais wines, will age beautifully. These wines are exciting. I whole-heartedly recommend them to you. Incidentally, the wines would be a really good match for turkey if you are considering what to buy for Christmas dinner.
If you missed tasting and buying them at the Love Wine Festival in Birmingham last month (where, it has to be said, they went down a treat), they are available from Berry Brothers and Gauntleys of Nottingham. Or you can buy directly from the château – surely one of the best ways to buy wine. Sarah and James have put together The Barrel Experience Weekend entitling you to the equivalent of a barrel of their wine which you and five friends can bottle yourself. Over a weekend you would visit the vineyard and winery, bottle your 300 bottles of wine (or ask them to do it for you if you don’t want to get your hands dirty), have dinner and stay overnight in the château. Now there’s a never-to-be-forgotten Christmas present for the wine lover in your life. For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org