Chateau La Grange Cochard

A quiet, misty autumn morning brought me to the sleepy hamlet of Villie-Morgon in Beaujolais.

Here, along a little lane is the historic and imposing Chateau La Grange Cochard. This seemingly innocuous village street was an important highway thousands of years ago, built by the romans and later controlled by the Knights Templar, this lane served as a link for goods brought from the south along the rivers Rhône and Saone to the north flowing Loire and onto Paris. The Chateau was built on the site of one of the staging posts for the Templar order.

Morgon is arguably the finest ‘cru’ in Beaujolais, certainly when it come to the ability of the wines to age. Within the cru lies an extinct volcano with its crushed blue granite soils. This gently rising peak is known as Py, which can produce some of the longest-lived wines of the region.

What brought me here were the wines of James and Sarah Wilding, who took over the estate of Grange Cochard in 2008. Prior to that the Chateau and its vineyards had fallen into disrepair. Together with their family, they set about restoring the building and investing in new machinery and equipment for the winery. I had never really considered Beaujolais before but a good friend suggested I make a trip. The vaulted cellars here are ancient, even older than the Chateau itself, filled with an assortment of old 3000 litre foudre and barriques, in which James and Sarah’s wines age. It is clear that both of them have a real passion for wine and care deeply about the estates heritage. At harvest time all the grapes are hand picked into small boxes. On arrival at the Chateau each bunch is checked again manually using a ‘table de trie’ – a vibrating conveyor belt around which workers can sort the good bunches from the bad. Each plot of vines is vinified separately.

Traditionally the wines of the village are vinified quickly, but here a slower, gentler fermentation is preferred which brings out the individual character of the various vineyard plots. Vines at the estate are old, ranging from 40-100 years in age. Three cuvees are produced: a Vieille Vigne, which is aged in those old oak foudre and two lieu-dits, Les Charmes and, of course Le Py. The Vieille vigne is sumptuous and elegant, with touches of pepper. Tannins are silky and soft. This is a wine to enjoy after a year or so of age. The two cru could not be more different, the delicate, very perfumed Charmes and the more powerful, age worthy Py. All three wines possess wonderful aromatics and a deep rich colour.

Since 2008, the wines from James and Sarah have earned international recognition and rightly so. We are delighted to offer them to you.
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