Our December #Wineofthemonth would not look out of place being poured around a festive table. Hallgarten’s French Wine Buyer, Beverly Tabbron MW, recently described Domaine Gardiés as the ‘zenith of what this region has to offer’, with their range of wines offering ‘incredible freshness, with marked minerality and purity of fruit’.
The Domaine Gardiés vineyards nestle in the foothills of Corbières. The vines are grown in the old plots on the Génégals,in caly-limestone soil, located on the heights of Vingrau.
In a nutshell:
An opulent and silky blend with rich notes of black cherry, layered with fig, olive and spice, beautifully balanced with ripe tannins underpinned by mineral freshness.
Situated at the foot of the Pyrenees in the village of Tautavel, Domaine Gardiés has been a family vineyard for eight generations. Jean Gardiés took over the property from his father in the late 1990s, and subsequently crafted his own cuvées from their naturally low-yielding vines. He now works alongside his son, Victor, together they passionately cultivate their 35-hectare estate vineyard, which sits across two terraces based on clay-limestone and black slate soils in Vingrau and Tautavel – two of the finest villages of the Côtes de Roussillon.
In 1990, they purchased Mas Las Cabes, a 15-hectare estate on the Espira de l’Agly terroir. All the vines are certified organic and arecultivated with the utmost respect for the rugged and wild nature of the Roussillonregion. Understanding and nurturing the soils is at the heart of the Gardiés philosophy, and as a result, they produce delicate wines which are expressive of the terroir and are characterised by complexity, depth, structure and elegance.
The grapes underwent traditional vinification, with maceration taking place in concrete tanks to gently extract the fruit flavours, colour and fine, elegant tannins. Fermentation took place with wild yeasts, the wine underwent light, daily punching down of the cap to ensure the desired level of extraction. The vinification time lasted for 20 to 25 days. The wine was aged for 12 months in 600 litre French oak barrels.
A new sparkling addition to our portfolio, Champagne Duval-Leroy, Brut Réserve NV has landed just in time for the festive period. This cuvée is a blend of 15 crus with 40% of reserve wines, resulting in a complex and consistent style.
In a nutshell
Refreshing and elegant, with biscuity flavours layered with dark chocolate, cinnamon and roasted yellow fig, beautifully balanced and refined.
Champagne Duval-Leroy was founded in 1859, with the alliance of the Duval and Leroy families and has subsequently been passed down for six generations. Today, it is one of the last remaining independent, family-owned Champagne Houses. In 1991, Carol Duval-Leroy took over and today successfully leads the house, together with her three sons, Julien, Charles and Louis. Carol Duval-Leroy is the first and only woman to date to be appointed president of the Association Viticole Champenoise.
Certified HVE3, the family is firmly committed to sustainable development in the vineyards and in the cellars under the watchful eye of chef du cave, Sandrine Logette-Jardin. Based in Vertus, in the heart of the Côte des Blancs, they create distinctive Champagnes of finesse and elegance, while capturing the essence of the terroir of their 200 hectare estate, which comprises 40% of Premier and Grand Cru villages in the Côte des Blancs and in the Montagne des Reims.
The blend is made up of approximately 15 crus, including: Chatillon sur Marne, Venteuil, Fleury la Rivière de la Rive droite de la Vallée de la Marne, Vallée de l’Ardre, Côte des Bars and Coteaux de Sézanne. The vineyards are situated on the renowned, chalky soils of the Champagne region. Champagne Duval-Leroy was one of the first
Champagne houses to be HVE3 certified and a multitude of sustainable practices are employed. Measures are taken to combat the run-off of rain water, to limit the pollution of both underground and superficial water; grass cover crops are grown and processes to combat soil erosion are employed.
Biodiversity is positively encouraged, sustainable fertilisers are used and sexual confusion of predators takes place instead of insecticides. The plots and weather conditions encountered are carefully monitored, with soil testing and cartographic, computerised methods in place for full traceability of products used in the plots. Above all, preventative measures are in place to minimise the use of products, which if necessary, are carefully chosen to have the least impact on the environment.
During the years that Beverly Tabbron MW have been responsible for the purchasing of our French portfolio, she has made many memories – memorable for so many reasons – of her various visits to our producers. Being a wine buyer certainly has its advantages and privileges; you get to travel to some beautiful parts of the world and spend time with some delightful wine growers. Here is her French memoir.
I, like many of my colleagues, have been missing trips to our producers due to the imposed travel restrictions. Now that we are (hopefully) out of the woods and able to travel, I am looking forward to being able to visit winemakers in person later this year – those who I have only been able to communicate with via Zoom, telephone and e-mail over the last 18 months.
Regardless of restrictions, and thanks to modern technology, we have still been able to introduce new wines to our portfolio from regions new to our list. I have discovered Domaine Vendange and their wines from the Savoie region – a mountainous part of France and part of the gruelling Tour de France route, where they produce tantalising wines from Jacquère, Altesse and Mondeuse with amazing minerality imparted from glacial soils. I have been looking for a range of wines from this part of the country for a while and am very excited to meet winemakers Diane and Benjamin in person, rather than virtually.
One of the regions that I look forward to visiting regularly is Burgundy, and I have vivid memories of so many tastings with Pierre Naigeon in Gevrey-Chambertin. Pierre is able to wonderfully explain the various terroirs of the region, ranging from cooler to warmer sites and the different soils, providing a complete masterclass on Gevrey-Chambertin. Pierre vinifies all of his parcels separately meaning he makes over 75 different wines – and there is a lot to taste as a result. He rushes around the winery with his pipet and glass fetching samples from tanks and barrels, and recently eggs, explaining everything in fluent English. As a result, I have missed trains and follow-on appointments after a tasting with Pierre having been so engrossed with the tasting. One year we even missed lunch as we overran – quelle horreur (this is France after all) – and were so grateful to Sebastien and Anne Bidault of Domaine Bidault, and Robert Gibourg who provided an ad hoc picnic of cheese, bread and cold cuts when we finally arrived to see them. Their wines tasted even better afterwards.
We have been working with a number of the Chậteauneuf-du-Pape producers in our portfolio for many, many years. I remember one occasion when André Brunel of Domaine les Cailloux reminded me that our companies have been working together since 1955 (I hasten to add that I was not around at the time)! This really stresses the importance we place on long term and consistent partnerships that we enjoy with many of our producers. Our partnerships with Château Fortia and Domaine de la Solitude also date from around this time, and we are now working with the next generation of the families who are coming through and taking over the reins at the estates. The wines are perhaps a little more modern in style as a result, in-line with current drinking trends but it is always such a pleasure to be able to visit these Domaines to see their diverse styles.
One of our favourite producers is the delightful Estelle Roumage of Château Lestrille, who is such a good ambassador for her wines and the region. Here she is behind the wheel of her 2CV taking Jim Wilson, our Portfolio Director and myself for a tour of the vineyards. Her white barrel-aged Bordeaux, Château Lestrille Capmartin, is made from a good proportion of Sauvignon Gris together with the usual Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle, a great illustration of the diversity of grapes that France can produce.
One of the downsides of being a buyer is that you always seem to travel to taste new vintages in the winter. I have often been in Burgundy, the Rhône and the Loire tasting ice cold white wines from tank or barrel in freezing cellars – hard to keep focused when your hands are shaking so much and a struggle to make your notes! I remember one particular year when I was in Sancerre where the wine was just undergoing its tartaric stabilisation with ice on the outside of the tank. It still tasted good once it had thawed out in the glass and mouth!
I read recently that France is estimated to have between 7,000 and 10,000 grape varieties, although only 250 are officially authorised by the Minister for Agriculture and 95% of all wines are produced from the main 40 varieties. It is always exciting to discover the lesser-known grapes and be educated, however long you have been in the business and whatever qualification you hold, and I am looking forward to continuing my exploration of the vineyards of France in the years to come.
Our October Wine of the Month –Champagne Collet Brut 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs NV– is an Art Deco inspired assemblage of six Chardonnay parcels from the best Premiers and Grands Crus of the Champagne region. The three pillars of this Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru come from the three famous Grands Crus of Champagne – Avize, Oger and Chouilly. Avize is a rich Cru which brings power; Oger offers tenderness and Chouilly imparts elegance and finesse to the blend.
In a nutshell
Vivacious and fresh, this 1er Cru delivers bright citrus notes with hints of white pepper, brioche and smoke, complex and elegant with a lovely long finish.
Champagne Collet with its elegant Art Deco packaging is evocative of the Belle Epoque era from when it was established. It is the oldest cooperative in Champagne, dating back to 1921. Since its inception, Collet has been creating Champagnes of character with authenticity, elegance and great finesse. Located in Aÿ, in the heart of the Champagne region, Collet represents some of the finest growers and mainly sources from vineyards which are based on Premier and Grand Cru sites. Each cuvée reflects the diversity of the region’s terroirs and has been masterfully blended to suit gastronomic cuisine.
The Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru was aged for a minimum of five years in Collet’s centuries old limestone cellars.
2018 saw significant rainfall during winter which continued into spring. The summer was hot and dry, but the vines avoided water stress due to the soil’s water reserves from the wet winter. An Indian summer ensured the grapes reached good maturity and the harvests took place under excellent conditions with the promise of a very good vintage.
In a nutshell
Intense spicy aromas are underpinned by rich, red fruits enhanced by rich chocolate and cedar tones, elegant and opulent.
Gérard Bertrand is one of the most outstanding winemakers in the South of France, owning numerous estates among the most prestigious crus of Languedoc-Roussillon. Formerly the IWC Red Winemaker of the Year and winner of Wine Enthusiast‘s European Winery of the Year, Gérard has been cited as the ‘King of the Languedoc’ among critics. Château l’Hospitalet is the jewel of the Languedoc-Roussillon’s crown. Situated in AOP la Clape, among 1,000 hectares of garrigue, it benefits from an exceptional terroir. The wines are imbued with freshness from sea breezes, mineral depth and texture from the limestone soils and warm southern climate generosity. The vines are cultivated organically and biodynamically
Only the highest quality fruit was used in this cuvée. The grapes were sorted, destemmed and transferred to temperature controlled vats. Each variety was vinified separately with natural yeasts and maceration lasting between 20 to 25 days. At the end of winter, the wines were racked to new 225 litre casks where they spent 12 to 16 months, with fine bâtonnage from time to time. Only the best barrels were selected and blended for this wine.
Now slowly progressing through more parts of the business, Hallgarten’s Head Start Apprentice, Amica Zago, has just returned from working a vintage in the south of France. Château de Campuget borders the Rhone Valley, Provence and Languedoc, marrying traditional elements from all three regions – an ideal opportunity to learn and get hands-on in the winery and the vineyard.
Following on from my fantastic few months spent in the Marketing team, I was able to embark on a once in a lifetime opportunity to work a harvest and gain an insight into the world of winemaking in the South of France. This was to be at the amazing Château de Campuget with Franck-Lin and his wonderful team.
Being able to witness the winemaking process and track the wine from the vineyard, to the tanks to the final product is a chance that Hallgarten has allowed me to undertake as part of the ‘Head Start’ Apprenticeship Scheme, and is an invaluable experience to anyone going into, or already working in the world of wine. Working a harvest gives you a complete understanding and appreciation of the product you are working with. And after a very long train ride, I was about to embark on this winemaking journey.
What you think would be the glorious world of making wine soon jolts you back to reality as the alarm goes off at 3:30am and long shifts are the norm – not that I was complaining!
Starting work in the very early hours of the morning, everyone comes into the winery on time and with a smile on their faces; winemaking is a job you do out of love rather than just as a job! The working day starts with the harvesting machine in the vineyard, picking the grapes and filling the tractors’ trailers, ready to be weighed and then dropped into the crusher – step one of the wine making process is now complete.
Before working a month in a winery, I had only made wine in a garage in Hertfordshire in the simplest form! Going to France and working in the winery with a full team and equipment you realise how much more there is to making incredible wines, than in a suburban garage winery. Every morning when you first start, then again at midday, you have to test the density of the wine in the tanks using a hydrometer also checking the temperature of the wine. The results are then passed back to the oenologist.
What did I learn?
There was so much to learn and I was able to put what I had already learnt from my Degree in Wine Business from Plumpton University into practise. Franck-Lin was keen to answer all my questions about winemaking enabling me to increase my knowledge immensely.
Something I didn’t know was why the grapes are picked in the early hours; this is because the grapes are cooler, reducing the risk of oxidation and also means that the grapes don’t have to be cooled while in the press.
I now understand the benefits of pumping over and the correct techniques required to produce good quality wine consistently. It was interesting to learn that different wines require different pumping over times, some require aeration during the pump over and others (for example zero sulphite wines) are not allowed the aeration.
What was my best part of my harvest experience?
Other than working alongside the most fantastic team in the prettiest of settings, my favourite part was definitely analysing the wines. On a daily basis the wines are analysed (sometimes more than once) on the alcohol percentage, pH level and total acidity. This is so that the oenologist can then work out whether any other ingredients (such as Malic Acid, Tartaric Acid or nutrients) need to be added to the juice. Wine analysis was very interesting to me as you were able to see how by adding certain ingredients balances out the wine. It was fascinating to analyse a wine in the morning, mix the ingredients recommended by the oenologist, adding them to wine while pumping over and then re-analysing and seeing and tasting the difference.
I can’t wait to taste the finished wines from the 2020 Chateau de Campuget vintages which I helped to make!
Hallgarten Head of Education, Beverly Tabbron MW, has used the last few weeks to ponder sparkling wine, the different forms and her favourite styles.
Sparkling wines have always been the choice for celebrations, and bubbles always make things go with a swing. Champagne in particular has always been regarded as the aspirational fizz of choice, and the one to choose for that special occasion.
However Prosecco is now a go-to choice for many consumers. It is on all the shelves and can be seen on TV shows; hairdressers and cafes – as well as restaurants – might even offer a welcome glass of Prosecco on arrival. Like ‘Champagne’ it is almost a brand all by itself.
There is a wide range of Proseccos available for consumers to choose from, and we were delighted to launch our new Prosecco range from the Praprian Estate, owned by our long standing producer Paolo Sacchetto, which includes two sparklers which are both vegan and organic. Two hugely topical characteristics in wine and one of the main reasons why we introduced the range.
We like to encourage people to try something different and entice them away from their usual Champagne and Prosecco choices, so here are a few that could add a different sort of sparkle:
Made in the same production method as Champagne, but from the far north east of France is the Crémant d’Alsace ‘Saint Julien’ from Dopff au Moulin in Alsace. Dopff pioneered the production of Crémant when Julien Dopff attended an exhibition in Paris in 1900 and was introduced to the ‘Champagne method’ of producing sparkling wine with the secondary fermentation in bottle. He experimented with this back at his Domaine and voilà, Crémant d’Alsace was born!
We have all seen that England is establishing itself a well-deserved reputation for the quality of its sparkling wines produced mainly on the chalk soils of Sussex and Hampshire. This is the same chalk strain that passes through Champagne giving good acidity and freshness, ideal for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the main grape varieties that go into the production of both Champagne and English bottle fermented sparkling wines. A great alternative to Champagne, and one that is grown and produced on our own doorstep.
For something different, a favourite of mine is the Pignoletto Frizzante ‘Romandiola’, a lightly sparkling wine made from the Pignoletto grape, slightly off-dry and a cross somewhere between Pinot Grigio and Prosecco in taste. It’s a really refreshing and quaffable style, and not too fizzy either – in my eyes, one of the best wines to serve as an aperitif on a summer’s day.
A new addition to the Hallgarten portfolio from our long-term partners in the Northern Rhône region. The grapes for the Château de Campuget, ‘1753’ Syrah Sans Sulfitescome from the Château’s own vineyard, which is situated 15 kilometres south of Nîmes, near the village of Manduel in the heart of the ‘Appellation d’Origine Protégée’ (AOP) of the Costières de Nîmes, however winemaker Frank-lin Dalle has chosen to designate this wine as Vin de France to distinguish the distinctive style of this wine, which has been made without sulphites
In a nutshell
This classy and intense wine shows a smoky, liquorice and plum character with a hint of dark chocolate and pepper.
Château de Campuget was established in 1942 and is a top quality estate near Nîmes, which is steeped in history. The Château itself was built in 1753 and at the same time the first vines were planted, prompting the 1753 range of wines which mark this historic date. The fusion of tradition and progression unite in the cellars here, producing wines with integrity, finesse and a wonderful expression of terroir, from a wide range of traditional Rhône varieties. In 2019, Château de Campuget was certified as Haute Valeur Environmentale, which officially recognises the environmental performance of winegrowers, including biodiversity conservation, plant protection strategies, managed fertiliser use and water resource management.
This wine was vinified without the addition of sulphites. The grapes were carefully selected to ensure only the healthiest and highest quality fruit was fermented. The berries were destemmed and vinified with minimal intervention in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks at 20°C. Post fermentation maceration lasted two weeks with twice daily pump overs extracting the rich fruit flavours and structure from the tannins. The wine was made without any oak influence in order to allow the purity of fruit shine through and was bottled early.
Forget the chocolate, forget the cake, a glass of dessert wine is exactly what you need! After the long Easter weekend, Hallgarten Head Start Apprentice, Amica Zago, has put pen to proverbial paper on all things sweet and luscious, as well as reminiscing about a trip to the world-renowned region of Bordeaux.
From I’m not talking about the thick, heavy, super-sweet dessert wines here, I’m talking about the elegant wines with rich and luscious honey characteristics. These are the true sweet treats!
Sweet wine encompasses a wide range of styles; including sparkling, late harvest, noble rot, passito, ice wine and this isn’t even all of them! There are so many countries and regions with numerous grape varieties (both white and red) and winemaking practices being used to produce these stunning wines. Now, I’m not going to talk about all of these because, well, we just don’t have the time! However I would recommend to try as many styles as you can, each one style is unique and all as wonderful as another.
After a trip to Bordeaux, my relationship with sweet wine had done a 180! Before my wine trip, I would have said I hated the style and if I had to taste it I would most definitely always spit! But, going to Bordeaux, the home of Sauternes, and tasting the sweet wine in a small restaurant in the heart of St Emilion, my life had changed forever.
Sauternes wines are great as an after dinner treat (either to replace a sweet or drank with lemon puddings and cheesecakes). The wine can also be drank when the cheese board comes out, the sweetness of the wine combined with the saltiness of the cheese creates a beautiful balance. However, Sauternes extends further than dessert. In France, it is often drank as a wine pairing to many starters, one of the main food pairings is with foie gras which many may not think of as a perfect pairing, but I for sure can tell you, it is one of the best food pairings I’ve ever had!
A Sauternes to indulge in is the Château Suduiraut, Castelnau de Suduiraut which is an excellent example of a great Sauternes with stunning candied fruit character and a hint of minerality. This is the perfect ‘sweet treat’.
Since visiting Bordeaux, I have tasted many different sweet wines from a range of countries and I am always more and more impressed by them. Whether I’m drinking them on their own, with a dessert or with a savoury dish, I am always surprised by how much I love them now after hating them for so many years! I can’t imagine going back to a time where I wouldn’t drink sweet wine.
Our December Wine of the Month, Champagne Collet Brut 1er Cru, Art Déco NV, is an award-winning Champagne from the region’s first co-operative, established in Art Deco France in 1921. A blend of seven Grands Crus and 13 Premiers Crus, this Champagne is not just suited to celebrations throughout the festive period, but also as a gastronomic partner to a number of cuisines and dishes.
In a nutshell
A broad style of Champagne with developed biscuity notes from extended ageing on the lees and a lovely long and salty finish.
Champagne Collet with its elegant Art Deco packaging is evocative of the Belle Epoque era from when it was established. It is the oldest cooperative in Champagne, dating back to 1921. Since its inception, Collet has been creating Champagnes of character with authenticity, elegance and great finesse. Located in Aÿ, in the heart of the Champagne region, Collet represents some of the finest growers and mainly sources from vineyards which are based on Premier and Grand Cru sites. Each cuvée reflects the diversity of the region’s terroirs and has been masterfully blended to suit gastronomic cuisine
The Chardonnay, predominantly from the commune of Vertus, contributes freshness and citrus notes. The Premier Cru of Villers-Marmery contributes the mineral dimension of the limestone terroir along with smoky touches. The Pinot Noir imparts a richness and power thanks to historic Crus such as Ay, Hautvillers and Avenay Val d’Or blended with Crus from Rilly la Montagne. The Pinot Meunier from Villedommange completes the blend imparting a roundness and suppleness.
This cuvée was bottle aged for a minimum of four years in the historic limestone cellars which are centuries old.
Hallgarten & Novum Wines Marketing Coordinator, Charli Truelove, has taken to the road with Sales Manager, Phil Brodie in the Midlands team, and a group of General Managers from Revere pub group to experience Gérard Bertrand’s wines in the South of France.
Gérard Bertrand is one of the most outstanding winemakers in the South of France. He owns 15 estates among the most prestigious crus of Languedoc-Roussillon. Formery the IWC Red Winemaker of the Year and Wine Enthusiast’s European Winery of the Year, he is known locally as the “King” of the Languedoc. Wines bearing Gérard Bertrand‘s signature have a unique style, driven by the fundamental values of excellence, authenticity and innovation.
The Languedoc region, in my opinion, should be considered the next premium wine region of France alongside the likes of Burgundy and Bordeaux. The climate, terroir and winemaking skills have long been over-looked because of the wine trade’s interest in other regions, however only now is this area coming to the forefront of the trade’s mind thanks to producers such as Gérard Bertrand. The quality of Gérard Bertrand’s Estates consist of the finest terroirs of the Languedoc region and the quality of the wines is phenomenal which is reflected in the awards his wines win.
I had the pleasure of staying at Chateau l’Hospitalet. Gerard’s Grand Vin La Clape was voted Red Wine of the Year 2019 at the IWC awards this year. Here we were lucky enough to receive a tour of winery, tasting freshly pressed grape juice – Marsanne, Viognier and Roussanne, at the start of the fermentation process.
Gérard’s philosophy is that to be in harmony with nature is the best way to bring out the typical character of a terroir and to create fine wines. Gérard Bertrand switched to biodynamic farming at the Cigalus Estate in 2002. This type of wine growing strengthens the balance between the vine and its environment. A healthy vineyard, a protected environment and acclaimed wines show just how effective this approach is. Some parcels have been identified as having unique potential, revealing the individual history of the place and age of an exceptional terroir. They are recognized as the Grands Crus of the South of France. Just another example of showing off the amazing winemaking potential of the Languedoc.
During my visit, we stopped at Chateau La Sauvageonne, here the first vines were planted in the 1970s. In 2011 Gerard bought property, the grapes grown here are 70% red 20% rosé 10% white. During the tour of the winery, we were shown how each day the winemakers measure sugar density and temperature and again got to taste freshly pressed grapes direct from the tank, we watched from the top of a tank how the pumping over process works and then ventured out into the vineyards to look at the Mourvèdre vines on the clay soils, which keep the humidity as there is no irrigation here.
With Cab Sav/Merlot blends dominating Bordeaux and Burgundy with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay what can Languedoc claim to be its flag bearer? Rosé perhaps? Recently Gérard Bertrand launched Clos du Temple – a truly unique rosé, alongside other premium rosé: Sauvageonne Rosé, which wins high points scores every vintage… even Jon Bonjovi’s son Jesse Bongiovi is choosing Gérard Bertrand and the Languedoc to produce their wine, Hampton Water.
Languedoc-Rousillon has made leaps forward in recent years in terms of quality and popularity, the region is dynamic and promising with some exciting terroirs and producers. We are so proud to represent this leading French name in the UK, and cannot wait to see where the next few years takes them on their wonderful wine journey.
A delicious Pinot Noir showing all the hallmarks of a good red Burgundy, with a vibrant bouquet full of red berries and delicate notes of spice, silky and intensely flavoured.
Gouffier owns five and a half hectares of vineyard in the villages of Fontaines and Mercurey in Côte Chalonnaise. Historically it was run by the Gouffier family for generations until Jerome Gouffier handed over the reins to his close friend Frédéric Gueugneau, formerly at La Chablisienne. Since 2011, Frédéric and oenologist Benoît Pagot have brought about a new style of winemaking. They follow an organic philosophy to create wines that are modern and approachable, but with all the style and panache of good Burgundy. They have created a collection of wines of outstanding originality, verve and spirit.
The hand-harvested grapes were vinified with 25% as whole bunches, which helped to impart structure. The wine was matured in 228 litre French oak barrels, of which 25% were new. The barrels came from forests in the centre of France.
Best served with
Perfect with roast poultry or duck terrine.
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