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Wednesday 24 February 2021

Two Wines for International Women's Day

Two wines made by female winemakers

Château des Jaume, Cru Maury Sec
Domaine Clavel, Syrius

Both these wines are interesting on several levels; for a start, they are both very good. They are also, in their own ways, somewhat unusual:

- Maury in the Roussillon is home to fortified vins doux naturels, strong, somewhat portlike, sweet red wines. This wine, however, is an unusual dry Maury sec 

- St Gervais in the southern Rhône is a tiny appellation with a winemaking history dating dating back to Roman times

The other connection between these wines is that they are both made by women winemakers. I asked them about their winemaking vision and whether they felt gender had any role in that.

Marie Toussaint, Château des Jaume (part of Les Grands Chais de France)

"I have the chance to work on several appellations which each have their own "personality". I am also lucky enough to work in the most beautiful wine region in the world; I do not know of a vineyard that offers such a diversity of terroirs concentrated on a same region. It's a job where you learn a lot and which leaves room for neither routine nor boredom.

"It is really a team effort where everyone has their place; I work closely with the estate manager and the vineyard manager. We share our knowledge and experience to bring out the best in each area; the idea is to obtain the best quality grapes to intervene as little as possible in the cellar.

"Regarding the place of women in this profession, I would say that there are no doubt more and more of us (as in many other professions). The gender question is not something I consider any longer. The managers of Seguala and Tholomiès are also women and they manage teams made up mainly of men. I don't think they have any questions either. I just wish there were more of us so people would stop asking about it."

Château des Jaume Cru Maury Sec 2016, (Connolly’s £14.95)  a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Carignan grown on black schist and slate.

Ripe morello cherry and plum fruit with cassis, minty eucalyptus and tobacco leaf. Beefy and porty, yet balanced, fresh, supple and full with inky pencil shavings. Very harmonious and no rough edges.

Benefits from aeration.


Match with darker-game-and-fruit combinations, such as duck in a red wine sauce, or blue cheeses.

Claire Clavel, Domaine Clavel 
"I am a descendant of a family that has worked the vineyard since 1640, so I strive every day to continue the story of several generations. A passionate winegrower, I am proud to take over the family estate.

"I love my job, I often say that I don't have just one job but several, covering everything from from the vine to the bottle.

"I follow the work of the vine, I transform the grapes into wines, and then I travel to make it known. Each year is different, forever starting anew.

"I think as women we have a different sensibility and that is reflected in the wines.

"A member of Femmes Vignes Rhône, I believe strongly in the influence of the moon on the vines and on different stages of wine productions, as well as in sustainable agriculture."

Domaine Clavel Syrius, CDR Villages St Gervais 2017 (Ake + Humphris, £10.99)

The estate covers 5 municipalities and over a hundred parcels, with the different terroirs expressing different wine characteristics. The vineyard for this wine is located mostly on the commune of St Gervais, with well-exposed southerly slopes, composed of sand, clay and limestone soils on along a cool and windy plateau, benefiting from to the cooling Mistral wind.

A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah.

Truffley-mushroomy with bright, vibrant blueberries, dark berry and cherry fruit; fresh with clove and peppery spice, cocoa and herbal cedar; very fine, rounded tannins. Precise, deft, concentrated and elegant.

Very Good and Good Value.

Match with lamb or darker game such as venison.

It has 91 points from Wine Enthusiast; Matt Walls, author of The Wines of The Rhône,  says I know Clavel well. This is arguably their best bottling. St-Gervais (just north of Lirac) is one of the most promising appellations in the Southern Rhône.

Also recommended by Brian Elliott in his Sunday Best Wines For Spring.

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