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Les Grands Châteaux de France
Life On The Edge
Just south of Bordeaux, in a place called Saint-Vincent-de-Pertignas, on a hill that loftily overlooks the surrounding countryside is the little find of a vineyard called Les Grands Châteaux de France.
The Château of France was built on the foundations of a former manor house of Philippe Decoud. The castle has retained the name of the old place on which it was built.
I discovered their wines through an event that was organised by the Hopwine people, and I found them so enjoyable that a visit was on the cards, if I was in the area. Today I was.
Finding it was a little difficult as my sat-nav tried to give me a location that was 50 minutes south of where I was. I wasn’t being misled because when I saw these instructions, I was stood next to a small sign with the name of the Château clearly printed upon it. The trouble was that what I thought was the Château was the owner’s home, and behind this was a nuts and bolts winery, and that was where I should be heading.
I thought that I’d got it wrong, drove around, and up and down the same piece of road before finally calling Mathild, who is in charge of communications. She put me on the right path, came to meet me (I was parked again outside the Château.
She took me to a little nondescript building by the entrance gates to the winery. Here she showed me where Frederic (the owner) calls his office, where she calls her office, and after a cup of coffee I asked her a few questions. Both of us stretching between English and French, and I’m pleased to say that we got things done.
Winefullness: Does the weight of history determine your actions?
Mathild: There has been a vineyard here for many years so it is impossible not to think about what has gone before when one deals with the terroir of this special place.
Winefullness: How many Châteaux make up the Grand Châteaux?
Mathild: There are a few, but that doesn't mean we lack a unified purpose when it comes to producing the special wines that Château de France is becoming known for.
Winefullness: Does the ranking system of Bordeaux frustrate you?
Mathild: It can sometimes stop people exploring the world of Bordeaux wine, but it is there to help Bordeaux retain the trust of the world by making respected wines. We hope that enjoyment will make tasters into wine explorers.
Winefullness Magazine: Did the summer fires cause any problems?
Mathild: Not many that I'm aware of. We were lucky, but it only goes to reinforce the notion that we are looking after the planet for future generations, and that we all must get along with the planet rather than abusing it for quick gains.
Winefullness: Which of your wines suggest the idea of Terroir the most?
Mathild: That is obvious. I feel 1218 tells a story and links the histories upon which the vineyard and the company are built.
Winefullness: How have Brexit and Covid impacted upon your business?
Mathild: There is no way to disguise the difficulties we have faced in the last few years, and while one holds on to an optimism for the future, this has been tested by the amount of impact these problems have caused. Sales had gone down, and we hope that by holding our nerve and talking to various interested parties that our wines can reach a wider market.
One To Recommend
1218 Naujan Bordeaux Supérieur
This mix of Sauvignon, Franc and Merlot is interesting, and I would recommend that you take your time when trying this, because if you rush it you're going to miss blackberries, minerals and cigar fighting for your attention.
If this was more expensive I'd not be sure, but for the bargain price this costs you just can't quibble, and if you did, you seem rather churlish to me!
4 out of 7