Thu 30 May 2013

When the Collective Spirit Really Comes into its Own


Not quite a year ago, I reported on the calamitous hail storms that blighted so much of Provence. Most of my news came from Domaine de Fontlade in the Varois but many were hit.

The same vineyard at Fontlade on 27th May 2011 (left) and 2012 (right)

The same vineyard at Fontlade on 27th May 2011 (left) and 2012 (right)

One of the worst-affected places was the town of Roquefort, a little inland from the port of Cassis in Provence. The devastation was almost complete as the hailstones ripped through the vines, knocking out in one fell swoop any chance of getting a crop.

But there is a good story which I think goes some way to cancel out the miserable fate that led to Katie Jones losing her production of white wine.

In Roquefort, two neighbouring properties faced real difficulties. It was worse for Château Roquefort but what happened here was remarkable as producer after producer donated the odd ton or so of grapes.

Sophie Cerciello and Didier Simonini of Château Barbanau among their vines with Domaine Tempier's Daniel Ravier

Sophie Cerciello and Didier Simonini of Château Barbanau among their vines with Domaine Tempier’s Daniel Ravier

Donations came from all over the south, from the Rhône to Bandol, including Domaine Tempier. ‘But for the grace of God go I,’ was the response. No harvest is ever guaranteed, not least when it concerns soft fruit but the reaction from so many was no less extraordinary.

Next door to Roquefort is Château Barbanau, owned by Sophie Cerciello and Didier Simonini. They suffered just as badly though didn’t make quite same fuss! Moreover, they insisted that everything that came to them had to be certified organic and only from AOC Cotes de Provence. But apart from that the story was the same with vignerons friends and neighbours donating crop and even help out in the hail-damaged vineyards.

The results are spectacular as members will find when we ship the 2012 white, rosé and red for the summer.

Marcel Orford-Williams
Society Buyer


  1. R F R Cooper says:

    Asking purely for information -not criticising the super cooperation/good neighbourliness -but is it not a bit illegal to pass other grapes off as your own??

    Qu 2 any thoughts on delivery from Montreuil (within France)? I have found some wonderful ‘everyday’ wines locally here in the Herault but it would be super to be able to have a couple of cases of old WS favourites for Christmas birthdays etc
    Yours sincerely Robert

    • Martin Brown says:

      Thank you for your comment, Robert.

      To your first question, Marcel replies that normally it would indeed be (though in fact you are allowed to buy 5% from outside provided you have due permission). In this case because of the nature of the disaster, the state allowed producers to buy in. The system is rather complex: you were allowed to buy based on 80% of what you might have produced in an average year, that figure taken over the last five vintages. You had to buy like for like (so for example if you were a Vin de Pays producer, you couldn’t buy in AOC wine and vice versa). In their case, they also restricted themselves to the same AOC and organic supplies and they bought either grapes or must and vinified all themselves

      As to your second question, I’m delighted to say that the French showroom does offer a delivery service within France. Get in touch with the team at Montreuil and they’ll be able to assist.

      Best regards,

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