Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tour de Belfort 2009, Vin de Pays du Lot

The only downside to having a national newspaper column is that you get a lot of wine sent to you. Now most of you might think that would be a huge plus and I can obviously see the advantage. But they do take over your life (our hall looks like a warehouse) and it is sometimes hard to keep up with the tasting and plantive emails from producers who ask if you've tried their wine yet.

Anyway I've finally got round (after several emails) to tasting this Tour de Belfort from a Quercy-based estate which sells direct and very enjoyable it is too. Or at least the red - a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot - is. The white - a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Semillon is nothing like as good.

The estate is in conversion - this is what they say on their site:

"We have practiced organic methods since the beginning to produce a wine that is as natural as possible. We do not use any herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. We started the Ecocert certification program in 2009 which will give us the organic certification after 3 years of survey, so in a year we will be able to add the certified organic logo on our labels." They also say they don't use any chemical additives in the winery and have low sulphite levels.

The vineyard is also part of a Natura 2000 European (EEC) protected territory "a program designed to protect habitats, species and biodiversity across Europe"

Anyway it's a delicious, soft, fruity, highly drinkable red that anyone would like to have in their cellar. My only quibble is that at £10 a bottle it's a pound or so too pricey. I know that includes the cost of transport from France but they are selling it direct. I'd be happier if it was £8-£9, if you bought a case of 12 at any rate.


  1. will.fisher@btopenworld.comFebruary 20, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    If you have a surplus of unwanted wine I can collect ;)


  2. If you live in Bristol you're welcome! (Once I've tasted it that is. We're constantly shipping it out the neighbours . . .)

  3. Thank you for your very nice comments on our red and for taking time to share them on your blog. We are a small and young vineyard (only now producing our third vintage). We are working hard to introduce ourselves to wine-lovers and positive support from you, as a respected and knowledgeable wine writer, is invaluable to us.
    Although the trend of natural wine is quite recent we have implemented this philosophy since the beginning of our vineyard. Thankfully our vines lie in a protected regional park so our grapes are not contaminated by any neighbouring treatments.
    Whatever the debate on biodynamic and natural wines, we feel strongly about not allowing any pesticides, herbicides or any unwanted added ingredients in your glass…and not to expose ourselves to them when working in the vines! Organic and biodynamic certifications do not include any analysis of the wine, so we have gone one step further by having our wine analyzed and certified “no pesticides” by the Laboratoire Excell in Bordeaux.
    Take away the intensive and patient task of hand harvesting and sorting the grapes, the organic treatments, low yields, very small production, our state of the art winery, our bottle, label, quality screw cap, transport, delivery costs and taxes....we are left with wine to share but no money for our very disappointed accountant! However we live on our passion.
    Hope you will enjoy our next 2010 white wine which has just received an award at the Concours Général Agricole 2011.

  4. Fiona

    I have very good friends, close neighbours, who also make and sell wine under similar natural conditions and win the odd award or two too. Haven't had the ££ to invest in their state of the art facilities though, which I had heard about, so it's a bit more 'au naturel'!

    I appreciate where you are coming from viz price given the access UK has to brilliant value and deals from all corners of the world, but I have to agree, in the main, with Muriel. We often forget how much transport and duty add to the french cave door price which should reflect production costs + a margin.

    Yes, it will be over priced for the UK (but that's the initial downside of competition and wanting to get into our market but you shouldnt be giving it away). You know as well as I do what the multiples would drive the price down to if they wanted to buy it - it would make it uneconomical to produce! Like with fruit and veg, the sooner they realise people are running a business not a charity, the better.

    Locally, people do like to buy organic wines over non-organic ones and they are happy to pay a premium. So if they can get people to buy it at that price, stick with it. Certainly there's a 'sold out' sign on the door down the road.

    And thank you for mentioning this small under rated wine area of France.

  5. Muriel and Jem: all these points are fair so thankyou for spelling them out. I'm certainly not comparing what you do to supermarket wines but there are organic wines available from suppliers like Vinceremos and Vintage Roots for less than £10. Just sayin'

  6. Fiona: Agreed, but how much are you paying for the actual wine in their cheapest bottle @£6 let alone under £10 (less than you are selling it for loxcally I'll bet). For them to be able to sell at that price and make a margin it must be peanuts to the coop/domaine which is not good news.

    In the end market forces will decide. My advice would be to concentrate on selling it to your local market at the price they will pay you for it unless you are have oodles of ££ to spare as tax, transport and duty will absorb any profit you might make.