Young bloods challenge our perception of French winemakers

Chénas Les Carrières Domaine 2011 wine

PICTURE French winemakers and what do you see? Veterans. Wisps of white hair blowing in a warm breeze. Soil brushed off gnarled hands and a grape taken firmly but gently between Gauloises-stained fingers.

A face the colour of Red Rum’s saddle bags turned upwards to the life-giving sun….  well that’s what I see.

And of course it’s a ridiculous stereotype. Even in the Old World strongholds, thrusting young bloods are breaking new ground. Men like Paul-Henri Thillardon – 27 years old and the   creator of Chénas Les Carrières Domaine  2011.

Continue reading “Young bloods challenge our perception of French winemakers”

At £14.90 from Christopher Piper Wines this is a Beaujolais worthy of a lifetime of experience.

Paul-Henri first made wine in basins in his parents’ garage at the age of 10; at the age of 15 he was given a winemaker role; at the age of 22 he set up on his own; now he  has a domain of seven hectares.

In his own words “wine brings people together”. I don’t think many of us would disagree.

Chénas Les Carrières Domaine 2011 wine
Chénas Les Carrières

His wine is a joy to drink with the worryingly easy downwards slither that decent Beaujolais guarantees.

But it’s still flavoursome and complex, floral hints more discernible than fruity flavours.

Take a bow young man.

Côte de Brouilly Les Sept Vignes Château Thivin 2011 (£14.95 Berry Brothers & Rudd) has one of the grandest labels I’ve seen in a while. Red, yellow and statesmanlike, worthy of a banner in a medieval court.

Côte de Brouilly is one of the 10 “crus” in Beaujolais, in other words recognised as making the best wines. This Beaujolais   is made by another young blood, Claude Geoffray, also 27.  He says his aim is to make a “living wine”  that reflects all he does; he wants it to take its time in a “rushing world”. An interesting wine; there are lots of raspberries on the nose   from the gamay grape and  to taste,  a stony edge  like wet   granite.

Continuing the French red theme but this time one from the Rhône. Every time I dipped my nose into  ‘Les Six’ Cairanne Côtes du Rhône Villages 2011 I picked up another aroma.

The clue is its name. The wine is a blend of six grape varieties, carignan noir, cinsault and counoise, together with the more popular Rhône varieties of grenache noir, syrah and mourvèdre. They  have been co-fermented in   pairs by winemaker Eric Monnin.

So   it was no surprise my senses had to work overtime.

First there were blackcurrants; then brambles and hedges; another time there was liquorice  dipped in vanilla; then the sap of a young tree; one more nose dip found leather and dried cranberries.

 There was a tastebud sudoku puzzle of fruits, cloves and peppers.

It’s a limited production wine (RRP £20) of  12,000 bottles, in the Boutinot Fide et Arte range  sold by and amongst others.

 Also in my glass

I cracked this open while watching Les Miserables on the telly: Domaine Maby Pont du Gard Rouge 2012.

It’s a  gentle, easy-drinking red but comes equipped with some real depth.

syrah and cinsault blend it’s a snip at £7.50 from the Wine Society (  and works well with or without food. Ideal with a hearty beef stew. Best of all, and surprisingly, it made Russell Crowe’s singing bearable.

Published in the saturday extra magazine March 29, 2014

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

Wine review: McGuigan Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013

McGuigan’s winemakers use grapes from south Australian vineyards for its reserve range.

The small print:

South Australia – 12% abv – Grape: sauvignon blanc – Buy: Tesco  –  Price:  £9.99  – screwcap – 2013 – Tasted Feb 23 2014 – Drink in 1 year of purchase

Food matches

Salt and pepper squid, seafood paella, green curry barbecue chicken

What it says on the vin:

Our sauvignon blanc is fresh and lively displaying vibrant gooseberry and citrus fruit flavours that are complemented by a crisp, refreshing finish.

McGuigan Reserve Sauvignon Blanc wine 2013
McGuigan Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013

In my glass:

Wasn’t massively blown over by this wine. There was an “oomph” missing but it was, well, OK. This sauvignon blanc has a delicate  nose of tropical fruits and a crisp lemon finish.

Find out more about McGuigan wines on their website here 

In my wine glass: McGuigan Classic Semillon Blanc 2012

In my wine glass: McGuigan Shortlist Chardonnay, 2011, Adelaide Hills