Musings of an overheated brain in his overheated vineyards.
… my involvement with wine started 60 years ago.
It’s a guess, but I think my involvement with wine must’ve started 60 years ago. My Dad, a building engineer, had landed a job in London, for British Aluminium in St James’s Square. Surrounded by posh wine shops, he began to bring bottles home.
One specific bottle made an impression. When I was maybe 15 he brought home a bottle of Château Mouton Rothschild. I’ve looked up old wine merchant’s price lists and reckon it must’ve cost him around £3! … in 1962.
This was a very special bottle, you could tell. The label, with its little bit of artwork by some famous artist intrigued me. I soaked it off and stuck it on the door of the kitchen cupboard. Then I started to read about wine and saw pictures of vineyards being harvested by gangs of pretty young things, all laughing gaily in the French sunshine. That image wouldn’t go away. At the time I think I liked that image more than I did any wine.
£3 back then was about £60 in today’s money. My Dad never bought anything else at that sort of price. But I don’t think he would ever have paid Mouton’s current price. Mouton is over £500 today. Has it got 10 times better? No, long ago it was already considered one of the world’s top ten wines. It’s just the old law of ‘supply and demand’. In the past Mouton and the other Premier Grand Cru Classés were known only to small numbers of serious wine-lovers in France and Britain, mostly. Today, all the world’s billionaires know of them and want them. But why are there so few which can compare with Mouton and the other Premier Grand Cru Classé?
Well, of course, as I’ve spent my life discovering, there are quite a lot which come so close even expert tasters get them mixed up. To the extent that these experts will never risk their reputations by commenting on any of these wines without ensuring they first see the label. And … these wines all cost way less than £500. My Château La Clarière costs £25. We could make it for even less but we like to make it in the same way those Grand Cru Classé wines are made. My wine mentors – who sold me the vineyard – told me this was possible and my life’s work has been to prove them right.
We know La Clarière has a perfect south-facing hillside site, similar to that of Château Ausone and Château Pavie, just a mile or so further west along the same ridge of limestone. We make our wine the same expensive way they do. We keep our production volumes per vine low and lavish every possible care on our vineyard and in our winery. Try a bottle? Save yourself £475?