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How to own Your Own Vineyard
Now here is a proposition for the serious wine enthusiast. Have you ever dreamed of owning you own vineyard and producing your own wine vintage? Now we can reveal that is all possible. We can show you how to rent a part of an winning vineyard in France. You can then buy the wines they make for you at the cost of production, collecting them at your vineyard itself, their warehouse in Calais, or they can deliver to your door in the UK.
You can visit your vineyard, take part in the harvesting of the grapes, (drink the young wine straight from the vats) join other like-minded enthusiasts for the many social events organised in the UK and France.
Wineshare was launched in 1986 and produced the first vintage then, just 200 cases of wine from the 1200 established Merlot vines that were all that existed on the land of the Domaine du Grand Mayne. Fifteen years later it has been totally transformed into a show-piece winery and vineyard producing award-winning wines. In addition they have added Château Constantin-Chevalier and Château de Pizay to offer a superb choice to tempt connoisseurs of fine wine to indulge in their passion.
Each year they taste all the wines they hold in their "wine library" and these are their conclusions and recommendations. However they would emphasize that tasting is a purely subjective matter and you may agree - or totally disagree - with their views. You can order samples of wine from the Wineshare site. A mixed case of twelve 75cl bottles to give you a tasting of the current wines available from this years release.
Andrew Gordon, founder, is a well-known member of the U.K. wine trade, which he first joined 35 years ago. He is currently a director of one of the U.K.'s major French and New World wine importing businesses and Chairman of the French Wine Committee (a UK advisory committee to the French Government). He has lectured extensively on all aspects of viticulture and vinification to members of the wine trade.
A wine enthusiast with extensive knowledge, in 1985 he became the complete wine merchant when he purchased Domaine du Grand Mayne in the Côtes de Duras with his wife Edwina. In 15 years they have transformed a rundown property with derelict buildings into an award-winning vineyard with a state of the art winery. In 1999 he was created a Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the French Government for his services to the French wine industry.
Domaine du Grand Mayne
Domaine du Grand Mayne is in the Côtes de Duras Appellation, south of the Dordogne river and to the east of Bordeaux. In 1985 when Andrew and Edwina Gordon bought the property it was an abandoned vineyard with semi-derelict buildings, overgrown copses and fields of sweetcorn and golden-headed sunflowers
The property covers nearly 120 acres: 90 acres of vines interspersed with fields, woodlands and meadows. The vines form neat, manicured rows, the old barn has been converted into an immaculate winery on to which a large extension, specifically for white wine-making, was added in 1993. The former pigsty is now a delightful tasting room and office. All the buildings have been refurbished and the ruined farmhouse replaced with a house in which Wineshare members can stay.
The vines of Domaine du Grand Mayne have been planted on the rolling south-facing slopes of the Lot et Garonne. The vineyard is a stone's throw from the appellation Bordeaux boundary and their selected grape varieties are the classic noble grape varieties of Bordeaux: Merlot enhanced by Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc for the red wines, Sauvignon Blanc with a hint of Sémillon for their dry white wines.
Each year they produce at least six different wines, although they are constantly experimenting with new cuvées and styles. Their unoaked red wine is a fruity full-flavoured wine to be drunk whilst quite young - a complete contrast to their oaked red which is aged in new oak casks and is a wine to lay down and mature.(The current vintages of both styles of red wine both won Gold Medals.) Their white wine is crisp dry and aromatic whilst the premium oak aged white wine has a length and structure that has repeatedly gained Gold Medal awards. The range of wines is completed by a delicious crisp rosé and a luscious dessert wine which is produced in extremely limited quantities.
Château Constantin-Chevalier nestles in a hillside on the outskirts of the village of Lourmarin - officially designated "un des plus beaux villages de France". It is certainly a very popular place, in the heart of the Luberon close to Aix en Provence, and boasts several notable hotels and restaurants.
The property itself covers 125 acres of plateau and hill which mixes woodland, cherry orchard, olive grove and vineyard. Some of the vines are more than 40 years old, the ideal age for the production of quality rather than quantity. Ten years ago the new owners, Allen and Marie-Laure Chevalier, undertook a vigorous programme of planting that involved moving 10,000 cubic metres of soil to create optimum growing conditions for future vintages.
The varieties which make up the vines of Château Constantin-Chevalier are the recommended vines of the region: Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault for the reds; and Ugni Blanc, Clairette, Rolle (the local name for Vermentino) and Rousanne for the whites. Château Constantin-Chevalier's famous rosé is made form 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah. All the grapes are picked by hand.
The wines are made in a winery which houses stainless steel vats and oak barrels in a XVIth century building. The thick stone walls, built into a steep slope, are ideal for bringing in the grapes and fermenting the wine at a stable temperature, despite the heat of a provençal summer.
Six wines are made at Château Constantin-Chevalier: a red wine and a premium red aged in oak barrels (mainly French oak but they are experimenting with American and Russian oak, too); a white wine and a premium white which is fermented in new oak; a fresh and fruity rosé that is characteristic of the region; and a small quantity of Blancs de Blancs sparkling wine made by the méthode traditionelle.
The quality can be tasted and is evidenced by the awards which the vineyard has received for its wines since the Chevaliers bought it in 1990: bronze medals in 1995; silver in 1996 and gold in each year since 1997. Its qualities are regularly recognised in the important Guide Hachette des Vins, the French winebuyers' bible which this year awarded Château Constantin-Chevalier a prestigious "Coup de Coeur".
Château de Pizay
Château de Pizay is a property steeped in tradition, a magnificent château dating back to the 14th century close to Mount Brouilly itself. The Beaujolais is a region of verdant hills, picturesque villages and rolling vineyards on the southeastern side of France between Mâcon and Lyons. This historic region perched above the valley of the River Saône and surrounding the town of Villefranche-sur-Saône is a region so rich that during the middle ages it constantly had to defend itself against the jealous neighbouring duchies of Lyons and Burgundy who fought over its land for centuries.
Now, in an era of greater tranquillity, Château de Pizay is one of the most important estates in the Beaujolais with over 65 hectares of vines. It is directed and run by a gentle giant of a man, Pascal Dufaitre, one of the foremost vignerons of the area; a wine-expert who was born and brought up in the Beaujolais region. His love for the region and its wines is a birthright he will pass on to WineShare members.
The layout is reminiscent of a Roman villa, a near certainty because an ancient road passes very near by. But it was not until 1030 that the name, Pizay was first mentioned in the charters of the Abbey of Cluny. In 1070 a fortified, surrounding wall was erected by the nobles of Pizay, They built the sturdy donjon in the 14th century and a couple of centuries later a formal garden in the French style was the finishing touch to the charm of this beautiful estate.
The Château is now a four star luxury hotel with luxury rooms and apartments in which Wineshare members will receive a warm welcome but although it dominates the surrounding vineyards it is a completely separate company and it is the vineyards and the wines of Château de Pizay that you share in as subscriber.
The charm of Château de Pizay is that the wines are so completely different in taste and style compared with the other Wineshare vineyards: Gamay is used for the reds, and the rosé wines, Chardonnay for the white wines. They are your vines, your wines, so you can put your name on the label. But the bonus is that Château de Pizay is so superbly situated in the undulating Beaujolais hills that it also owns sites in the superb Beaujolais Cru appellations of Morgan, Brouilly and Régnié.