JC in France May - June 2018 | Day 9

Date: 08-06-2018

Day 9:
This is my last day in Bordeaux! I am flying later on into Lyon. I couldn’t leave the region without tasting in the Graves Appellation - I have already missed the guys at Chateau du Seuil (Ex-pat Kiwis - Nic & Sean Allison) a few days ago. One of the most impressive properties in this region is Chateau Smith Haut-lafitte (Grand Cru Classé)! The Cathiard family have created here, over the last 20 years, something they call 'Un monde a part' (a different world). The parents and their two daughters created one of the most prestigious wine estates but also on the same site: 'Caudalie' (a range of exclusive beauty care products from grape seeds and vine cuttings) and a hotel 'Les Sources de Caudalie luxury country hotel' (with a two star Michelin restaurant). The place is simply magic. We were treated superbly with a full on tasting of new and old vintages. Their wines (mainly made with Cabernet Sauvignon) have a controlled generosity and power with silky tannins and extremely long finish. They have on the property their own barrel maker, we stayed there for few minutes to see the meticulous work to make a barrel. Super interesting and you could stay hours to watch.
The team left me at Bordeaux's airport to catch my plane for the town of Lyon for some work in the Northern part of the Rhone Valley. The others were staying together to see more of the region. Once arrived in Lyon I rushed to get my rental car and drove South for my first appointment near the town of Tain l'Hermitage. I was expected at a new Domaine for Maison Vauron – Domaine Belle. This family Estate, run now by two brothers, is particularly interesting for us as we have no wines coming from a very specific terroir called Kaolin (It is a fine soft white clay, resulting from the natural decomposition of clay). This type of soil tends to give the Syrah grapes a slow and gentle maturation and end up with pure, mineral wines combined with fruity, floral and spicy characters. The family offers mainly Crozes-Hermitage wines (whites and reds) which, thanks to this terroir, are just superb. I was extremely impressed by the dedication and passion of these two young guys. You should see them very soon on our shelves. 
I had to drive back North to my hotel near Vienne - 'Le cottage de Clairefontaine'. - JC


Training at Château Smith Haut Lafitte