Join Tony Laithwaite on his winemaking adventure

Welcome to Château La Clarière, the Bordeaux winery I was literally told in 1980 I had to buy … and thanks to customers actually did!

Long, long ago I got to know ‘Monsieur’, a member of a group of struggling small French growers trying to get out from under the traditional wine trade domination of the big merchants and go direct to customers.

They met at France’s national wine shows where they would win as many competition medals as they could. Because that was their way forward; just win lots of gold medals, “don’t just say you make a better wine … prove it”.

I offered to introduce their wines to the UK. They adopted me, even helping me find a van to deliver the stuff as well.

They saw me more as a long-distance delivery driver than one of the hated merchants. Things took off and I travelled further out into the wine world linking up with multi-medal winning winemakers everywhere.

Monsieur and Madame Cassin
Monsieur and Madame Cassin, my great French mentors

Then one day Monsieur rang me early one morning despairing and said his vineyard was going to disappear because none of his family wanted to take it on. The work was too hard and the rewards non-existent really.

Would I please buy Château La Clarière. He knew I had lots of customers. Surely they’d like to help. Well they did. Two thousand of them subscribed for my first vintage which I made under instruction from my winegrower friends.

My support group of customers loved it. Virtually every one of my Confrères as I called them went on to buy my next vintage too. And the one after and so on … and they still take an annual case and love ‘their’ wine.

So although we sell wines from the whole world, the heart and soul of Laithwaite’s still lies in Monsieur’s old vineyard, now the most successful estate in the whole region. (Twice getting the overall trophy for most-awarded producer in Bordeaux.)

“Everything claret lovers could want. It’s pretty impressive when the French Minister of Agriculture personally awards your property the title of ‘most successful Bordeaux producer’. Twice.”

Oz Clarke, wine author and TV presenter

Medals and awards galore prove our wines are better. But the real proof is our customers staying so faithful to their wines and winemakers.

It’s all a dream I sometimes think. La Clarière has been so good to me. It sets the whole tone of our business.

Because we try very hard to share ALL the enjoyments of wine. The sign on my van said Producer to Consumer Direct. Whereas Merchants separated the two and did very nicely, thank you – and still do in some countries – I brought them together to share all the benefits.

I feel I’m really a sort of dating agency through wine … because it’s clear lots of love is involved. Come to one of our tasting events and you’ll see love all around as old friends greet each other … over a few glasses.

The vineyards at dusk, the prettiest time of day.

You’re very welcome to join this great wine love fest. Its supporters love their Château La Clarière and I certainly love them. I’ve met so many at our get-togethers and they are all the most delightful of people. Château La Clarière wins major gongs all over … Paris, London, Beijing … we’ve even won trophies for winning more gongs than anyone else in Bordeaux.

I’m really proud to share our Château La Clarière with all my customers, but especially the Confrères because it’s their château, their names are in the Big Book.

I love to draw them barrel samples of the wine that proved Monsieur and his mates so right; “qualité, qualité, qualité” – he drummed that into me endlessly – is the ONLY way to make wine.

Spaces are always limited – by the vineyard’s size, first and foremost! – and we cannot expand much more. So now really is the time to join our merry band.

Tony Laithwaite

Founder Confrère

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About Laithwaites Wine

Laithwaite's began in 1969, when Tony Laithwaite took a job washing bottles in Bordeaux... and fell in love with real wine and the people who make it. When he borrowed a van to share these delicious wines with friends and neighbours at home, things went so well that boutique wineries were soon queuing to take part. Today we're the UK's No.1 home-delivery wine merchant, with over 1,500 wines to choose from... including red, white and rosé, plus Champagne and sparkling, beer and cider.

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