Four French Wines With a Family History
Wine specialists 8Wines handpick the finest wines from across the globe. Here, they share some of their favourite wines from l’Hexagone, each with a family story behind it.
Château Maucoil Côtes du Rhône Villages 2018
Château Maucoil dates back to Roman times when an army base was made for Caesar, and the first wine was made here in 1624. In 1995 it was bought by the Arnaud family, who produce top-rated wines, and since 2011 it has been farmed organically with minimal intervention methods.
The Côtes du Rhone has a perfect blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, sourced closely from Maucoil’s Châteauneuf du Pape vines. The biggest advantage is that this gives a depth of flavour and beautiful complexity that can’t be replicated in most Côtes du Rhone wines. The wine ages in vats before bottling and the grapes are harvested by hand. Cassis, bramble and dark cherry are felt on the nose, and the taste reveals sweet spice, crushed cherry and dried fruit flavours. A medium-bodied wine with ripe tannins, the finish has hints of tobacco leaf, dark chocolate and woodsmoke.
Château de la Gardine Rasteau 2018
The Brunel family bought the Château de la Gardine in 1945 but have been making wine since the 17th century in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region. Founder Gaston Brunel discovered an ancient bottle and decided to copy it for the wines; this unique design was created specifically for the Italian family, but today it is used for all wines. Gaston’s two sons and their wives run the estate; there are 52 hectares with mostly black grapes, and 20 hectares of woodland for biodiversity. This impressive wine has winter spice with dark berries, hints of dried violets because of Syrah and Grenache grapes. They are co-fermented and aged in cement tanks and stainless steel, so the fruit is from four- to 60-year-old vines grown on Mont Ventoux. The best thing is that it is a gastronomic red, pairing well with everything, from charcuterie and tomato-based pasta to hearty stews.
Brendan Tracey Wah Wah Light 2020
Brendan Tracey moved from California to France in 1980, having fallen in love with his mother’s native country. Back in 2010, he started to produce his wines by putting his own personal take on the classic varieties of the Loire Valley.
Today he produces various wines and loves to experiment. Wah Wah Light is inspired by the classic Wah Wah that has the beautiful Gamay grape created with wild yeast fermentation and extended skin contact. This version undergoes a semi-carbonic maceration and less skin contact, which adds vibrancy to the final result. This wonderful wine has forest floor, dried herbs, wild berries on the nose with a light-bodied mouthwatering acidity, and red fruit core. Wah Wah Light has a pure finish that goes well with pizza and pasta and with aged cheeses and charcuterie.
Château Fonréaud 2018
This magnificent estate is set in the Médoc in France, and local legend says that the king of England drank from a spring here in the 12th century. Back in 1962, it was bought by an Algerian by the name of Léo Chanfreau, who decided to improve the vineyards and rebuild the property.
The second and third generations run it now and have 38 hectares, primarily growing Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They use environmentally-friendly and sustainable agricultural practices, and the vines are planted on soils over limestone.
The family picks the best plots during the harvest, and after that, the fruit is crushed before being fermented in small tanks with controlled temperature. After producing the young wine, it ages in oak barrels for one year before bottling. Herbal notes, cassis, blackberry are felt on the nose, and the taste shows a full-bodied wine, opulent with a long lingering finish and firm tannins.
A Word from 8Wines…
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