Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chateau La Baronne

When we first moved to our new house in Moux our focus was fully on the refurbishment needed to make the house habitable to the standard we wanted - not an easy or quick job.  When we finally got our heads above the parapet we started to explore our new surroundings - and our new surroundings, our village, contain a wine estate of undoubted quality.

Chateau La Baronne is owned by the Ligneres family, a family of doctors, pharmacists and winemakers. We all know that wine is made with care and love and chemistry so perhaps they know a thing or too, but there are no pharmaceuticals involved because La Baronne is a certified bio-dynamic wine estate which means not only totally organic but also in tune with the phases of the moon. That means bottling, harvesting and pruning on a fruit day or flower day as best befits the activity.

The wines are not the cheapest you will find in the region but they are cheap compared to their equals in the rest of France and the wider world - what is undoubted is that they are delicious and extremely well made.

The grapes, both white and red, are classic Languedoc varieties.  Rousanne, Grenache Blanc, Bouboulenc and Vermentino blends for the whites and Grenache Noir, Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah for the reds.

The family favourite is the Carignan and they are 'constantly striving to heighten the expression, finesse and elegance of this emblematic variety of the region' (a quotation from the estate website).  The top wine of the estate is Piece de Roche - a 100% Carignan made from vines planted in 1892.  These were some of the first new vines planted on American rootstock after the phylloxera crisis at the end of the 19th century wiped out the vineyards of Europe.

I find it amazing that I can drink wine made from grapes grown on vines planted so long ago. They don't actually know how long these vines will keep on producing grapes of high quality because there aren't any vines older than this in France - it will be an ongoing adventure and one I hope to keep pace with.

In one of the barns at the estate is this beautiful old 'camion'.  It was used to deliver barrels of wine to clients in the early part of the 20th century.  It replaced the old horse and cart and represented the future back in the 1920's.  Now it just gathers dust, but it has lost none of it's charm and I adore that they have kept hold of it even though it now has no practical use.  It is part of their history, part of their heritage.

The estate isn't set up for visitors but that doesn't mean you wouldn't be welcomed and given the chance to taste these fabulous wines.  I would suggest a call in advance to make sure they know you are coming (English spoken).

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