Thursday, 11 September 2014

Château Monconseil-Gazin

Following on from my last blog about the Côtes de Bourg this time I will be taking a more in depth look at an individual winemaker from the nearby Côtes de Blaye. Château Monconseil Gazin is owned by Jean-Michel Baudet and his wife Francoise. Jean-Michel is the 5th generation of his family making wine at the Château.

I should say there is a little bit of self interest here. My parents-in-law Rob and Norma, who are big wine lovers, have been enjoying wine from the Monconseil Gazin estate for some years. Their original knowledge of this particular vineyard came about via an unusual present that Norma bought Rob for a birthday.  The birthday presented entitled Rob to own a row of vines for a year at the estate. Mainly a bit of a fun yes, but it has led to them returning to the vineyard and buying the wines every year since.

3D Wines offers an alternative way to
support local vineyards
The gift came from 3D Wines Experience, a well established company offering an opportunity for anyone to support small, family run vineyards. The business was started in 1992 and now offers opportunities to support vineyards in many wine producing areas including most of the main regions of France including Bordeaux, and also vineyards in Tuscany and New Zealand. I believe the opportunity to 'own' vines for a year may have been discontinued but the business is still successful. And it must be working for Château Monconseil Gazin as they are still in the scheme

As with the Côtes de Bourg the Côtes de Blaye is one of the lesser known appellations of Bordeaux producing more simple wines but still with 6600 hectares under vine. Merlot is king, with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec also produced. Most wines produced here are blends of the three. The majority of the operations are family affairs and I saw this at first hand on my visit to the Château Monconseil Gazin in July. It was built in around 1500 and soon became an important country seat. Since 1894 five generations of the Baudet family have been making wine although wine has been produced here for many more centuries. It was only in the 1950s that the Gazin parcel of land was added and the Château took the name it is known by today.  The family are celebrating 120 years of history over the weekend of the 20th and 21st September this year.

Touring the cellars
5 fantastic wines are made at Monconseil Gazin
Francoise discussing wines with Rob, Norma & myself
Our visit was unscheduled which was a bit naughty of us (They would prefer you to ring or email ahead if you wish to visit) but Rob and Norma know Francoise so well that there was no problem and soon we were touring the winery and tasting the wines. Five wines are made on the estate and we tried them all. A classic red (Francoise refers to this as the Saturday wine), a grand reserve red (the Sunday wine), a classic white (100% Sauvignon Blanc), a prestige white (Sauv Blanc with 20% Semillon) and finally a rather delicious Rosé that I immediately purchased a case of to bring home. I should add that all the wines were fab and I could have happily drunk the 'Sunday' red every day of the week.
But more important than the details of the wines, Francoise was a fantastic host, speaking perfect English and welcoming us with bundles of enthusiasm for her wines. This is the lovely thing about the wine industry in France. Yes, some of it is very corporate and big business like but much of it isn't. It's about families who are so proud of their produce and they just enjoy sharing that love with you.
As we were leaving we popped our heads into the winery itself and saw Francoise's daughter helping to label the bottles. Francoise  told us she was more interested in horses than wine at the moment but hopefully that will change. I hope so too. So lovely to see a family business being handed from generation to generation. 
If you are ever in France, or indeed in any other wine producing area do go and visit the local vineyard. I am pretty certain you will get a very warm welcome. 

Me with Francoise 

A memento of our visit

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Until next time. Enjoy your wine.


1 comment:

  1. Hi, We're just opening a mobile Prosecco Bar, from a vintage horse box for weddings, parties and festivals. We;'d love to offer an English Sparkling wine alongside Prosecco. What would you recommend??