Eagle-eyed (and elephant-memoried) readers might recall I wrote a feature on English winemaking collective Sussex Wineries a while back. Well, the French are, of course, no strangers to this sort of united-we-stand approach to fermenting grapes, and Vignobles & Signatures are a perfect example of this. But the group isn’t exactly a household name among UK consumers, especially those outside the trade.
Le Club des Grands Domaines Vignobles & Signatures (to use its extended moniker) is a collection of 18 winemaking families from eight key areas of France. Members pool their resources to organise tastings and meet up at trade fairs, where they share knowledge and expertise, and trade gossip about winemakers who aren’t in the group (I made that last bit up. I’m sure they don’t really do that).
“Now, that’s all very well,” I hear you say. “But how does this benefit me as a consumer?” Well, as is the case with Sussex Wineries, the Chablis AOC, and any well-respected appelation, a certain standard of quality is assured among Vignobles & Signatures producers, as well as a shared commitment to ethics and sustainability.
Of course, I never make guarantees without sampling the goods, so I tasted three contrasting bottles, which were sent to me by the UK’s most fabulous drinks-PR people, R&R Teamwork.
Domaines Piron Morgon La Chanaise 2018
As a Beaujolais wine, the light, refreshing fruitiness of this Dominiques Piron Gamay Noir from the Fleurie region in southern Burgundy comes as no surprise. Here, the 50-year-old vines have spawned vibrant flavours of cherry, strawberry and plums, as well as complex, spicy notes.
I prefer it at room temperature, but you can serve this wine slightly chilled if you’re lucky enough to have some summer left in your corner of the globe (summer storms batter my window as I type). Either way, it’s a suitable partner for game, or soft cheese with crackers.
Domaines Piron Morgon La Chanaise 2018. 12.5% volume. £14.99 Waitrose (2018 vintage due on shelf mid-September).
Château de Tracy Pouilly Fumé 2019
Known for its smokey, flinty character, Pouilly Fumé is a prominent member of the Sauvignon Blanc nobility. And, frankly, the kind of bog-standard New World Sauv Blancs you find in most pubs wouldn’t be fit to polish this Château de Tracy 2019’s showjumping trophies.
A touch less on the “fumé” side than some, this leans more towards the biscuity lees-aged style of Champagne. Its dominant fruit characters are citrus, grapefruit and pear, but look out also for some guest-starring thwacks of blackcurrant too.
Chateau de Tracy Pouilly Fumé 2019. 13.5% volume. Available for £22 at Tanner’s Wines.
Domaine Cauhapé, Chant des Vignes, Jurançon Sec 2019 (Pictured Top)
I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what to expect from this intriguing blend of Gros Manseng (60%) and Camaralet grapes. But I loved it. In fact, it was my surprise pick of the three.
Highly aromatic and floral, with lively tropical/stone fruit flavours, it expertly evokes the taste of its roots in sunny south-western France. If you’re after something unusual, distinctive and impressive, I promise you won’t go wrong with this. It’s great value too. Nice work, team!