JC is back in France! Day 11
Not sure how - but we have 6 tastings today!
An early start as we headed up the Rhône Valley to a tiny little village south of Condrieu to meet with a new producer for us. Jean-Baptiste Souillard an ex œnologue/consultant, is now making St Joseph wines from purchased grapes of friends and family. Di and I were very impressed with the precision of his wines. JB is a perfectionist and does not hide it. His cellars are tiny and quite simple - the wines are doing the talking here!
We had a long drive south again to meet with one of Maison Vauron’s most longstanding Syrah producers - the small Domaine Auguste Clape. We met with Olivier and his father Pierre-Marie - it is very hard to find anyone as humble as they are. Based on the main road of Cornas, their wines are archetypal of the Appellation. The format of the tasting has not changed since I started with them over 25 years ago. Each barrel represents a different plot and a different age of vines - you always start with the young vines (20 years), then move to the 30 years, then 40 years, then 70 years and finish with a barrel sample of the 115 year olds. As you can imagine the experience is something else! We are ever so proud to be in partnership with such a domaine. We all had lunch together in the neighbouring village of St Peray where Magalie (Olivier’s partner in life) started a really cool cafe/bistro serving great vegetarian meals. We had a wonderful lunch there accompanied by a good bottle of red from a friend of Oliver’s based in the Marmandais (Domaine ChanteCoucou).
Early pm we headed to the cult domaine of Jean-Louis Chave. Jean-Louis is the 16th generation to make Hermitage and other wines here. Jean-Louis himself did the tasting for us mainly out of the barrels of the 2020 vintage - he is very happy with the result and believes that these wines have great cellar potential. If you have never experienced the wines of this domaine we do highly highly recommend them. We have some of his 2019s on our shelves. What the Chave family have created over the years in the village of Mauves is nothing short of remarkable.
We had to cross the river Rhône for our next appointment to one of Jean-Louis’s distant cousins - Yann Chave in the Appellation of Crozes- Hermitage. This rugby loving man produces typical Crozes from the southern part of the Appellation - fruity, forward, round of with soft tannic structure. Yann’s oldest son will come to NZ, also a rugby player, and is keen to do a vintage in 2023. Hopefully he will have the time to run a couple of tastings at Maison Vauron while he is in NZ.
Once more we had to cross the river back to the village of Mauves to meet with the charming Jean Gonon of Domaine Gonon. Making only St Joseph wines, Jean and his brother are true craftsmen. Their wines are extremely rare and we are lucky at Maison Vauron to get a small annual allocation, and unfortunately are never seen on our shelves.
It was already 7.30pm for our last meeting and it was a pleasure to meet again Nelly France (worked for many years at the exceptional Clos Henri in Marlborough) and her little family from Domaine De Boel-France. We met at one of my favourite restaurants in the region - L’Auberge Monet in the village of La Roche de Glun (near Tain Hermitage). Coincidentally the owner’s son worked with us in NZ some years ago. Before the dinner we had an extensive tasting of the De Boel France wines, which are showing as per the last couple of vintages, great promise. Their wines have a huge following in NZ. With the tasting we nibbled on deep fried baby sprats - a regional specialty and caught in the surrounding rivers. The dinner that followed was delicious! Another very late night for us, pleased to have caught up with all these people from a region so close to my heart.
1.Jean- Baptiste Souillard - A perfectionist 2.A mini masterclass of the Appellation St Joseph 3.Domaine Clape - A cellar I have been tasting at for over 25 years. Always a special time!
4.Stuffed courgette flower for lunch. It was delicious 5.Jean-Louis Chave - a man of principles. 6.Yann Chave in Crozes-Hermitage with his line up
7.The thoughtful and charming Jean Gonon. 8.The line up of Domaine De Boel-France. Impressive wines for a very young domaine.
9.Magalie’s bistro in St Peray 10.Which one shall I take for dinner