A Tasting of Fine French Wines in London

Peter Morrell meets seventeen family businesses who produce excellent wines and spirits

The Vignobles & Signatures Club members were in London recently showcasing their wines. Between them, they offer a wide range of wines to suit every taste and pocket and represent wine-growing areas across France. Time and space don’t allow me to list every wine I tasted but here is an illustrative list.

Couly-Dutheil from Chinon in the Loire Valley was founded in 1921. They make a range of reds and whites. I tasted Les Gravières 2017, a red made with 100% Cabernet Franc grapes. A cherry nose was joined by blackcurrants and spice on the palate. It was medium-bodied and had well-balanced tannins.

RRP in the UK: £14.60. Available from Woodwinters Scotland, Davies Bell Mcraith Bristol. Budgens London, Christopher Piper Exeter and Bedales London.

Coume del Mas making Banyuls, Collioure and Côtes du Roussillon wines. The area where these wines originate has rapidly gained the reputation of producing high-quality vintages. I tried the Mas Cristine 2017, a Côtes du Roussillon red made with 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache noir, 10% Carignan noir. It had plum and blackberries aromas in the bouquet, on the palate there were good spicy notes. Luscious fruit flavours left a persistent finish.

RRP in France for reference: €12.00, Available from Hedonism. Amathus (five shops), Vinoteca (five wine bars and wine shops) and Quadratur (also at Selfridges), all in London.

My third tasting was from Vignobles Joseph Janoueix, a winemaker founded in 1898, who create Saint-Emilion, Pomerol and Côtes de Castillon. I tasted the Château La Croix 2015, a Pomerol made with 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc. Floral hints on the nose mixed with black cherry aromas were still prominent in the mouth. These were complemented with rich plummy flavours and spices. The well-structured tannins make the wine very smooth.

RRP in the UK: £45.00, Available from good wine merchants.

It was time to try a white which was from Alain Jaume who produce Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes-du-Rhône, Lirac, Vacqueyras, Crozes Hermitage, Saint Joseph and Condrieu. The Jaume family have been vintners at Châteauneuf-du-Pape since 1826. The wine I tasted was the Domaine Grand Veneur Blanc de Viognier 2018. a Côtes-du-Rhône blanc made with 100% Viognier. This aromatic wine was perfumed with white flowers and peach aromas in the bouquet. A complex mix of flavours in the mouth and well-balanced acidity made this wine fresh and uplifting.

RRP in France for reference: €12.00. Available from good wine merchants.

Back to the reds, my next tasting was from Famille Lesgourgues who make Bas Armagnac, Bordeaux, Graves, Madiran wines. I sampled the Château Peyros Greenwich.43N 2015 Madiran, made with 100% Tannat grape. This big wine had vanilla on the nose from the oak ageing together with blackberry and blackcurrants. The full-bodied mouthfeel had layered tannins which were smooth and satisfying.

RRP in the UK: £27.85. Available from Amathus, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Hedonism.

Famille Orliac – Domaine de l’Hortus et Clos du Prieur who produce Pic Saint-Loup, Val de Montferrand were my next choice, tasting their Domaine de L’Hortus Grande Cuvée 2017,
Pic Saint-Loup wine, a blend made with 60% Syrah 35% Mourvèdre and 5% Grenache. A strong peppery nose brimming with blackcurrants, it was a big wine for pairing with beef and game, Good fruit flavours and tannins created a long, fruity finish.

RRP in France for reference: €23.90. Available at good wine merchants.

Domaines Dominique Piron, making Beaujolais, Morgon and Chénas wines was my next call. I tried the Morgon La Chanaise 2017 made with 100% Gamay grape. A basketful of red fruit in the bouquet of this wine majored on cherries and plums. The palate revealed an array of spices and the soft tannins make it easy to drink.

RRP in France for reference: €11.50, Available from Fortnum and Mason, Waitrose, Direct Wines, Theatre of Wines and the Wine Society.

My final sampling was from Domaine Roux producing Côte d’Or and Bourgogne wines. I tasted the Saint-Aubin Premier Cru Sur Le Sentier du Clou 2017 made with 100% Chardonnay. A very fresh, crisp wine with good flavours of green apple and a creamy mouth feel. The finish was bright and fresh.

RRP in France for reference: €34.00. Available from good wine merchants.

For more information about all the members of the Club and their wines go to
https://www.vsclub.com/

List of members
  • Domaines Abécassis – Cognac
  • Domaine Paul Blanck & Fils – Alsace
  • Domaine Cauhapé – South-West
  • Couly-Dutheil – Loire Valley
  • Coume del Mas – Roussillon
  • Champagne Drappier
  • Jean Durup Père et Fils – Burgundy
  • Figuière – Provence
  • Roger Groult – Calvados
  • Guilbaud Frères – Val de Loire
  • Vignobles Joseph Janoueix – Bordeaux
  • Alain Jaume – Rhône Valley
  • Famille Lesgourgues – Bordeaux, Armagnac
  • Famille Orliac – Languedoc
  • Domaines Dominique Piron – Beaujolais
  • Domaine Roux – Burgundy
  • Château de Tracy – Loire Valley
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