Tonight we saw ‘our’ wine being poured for The Queen and her house-guests at dinner in Windsor. Not the wine from the grapes we grow on a hill in the Royal Farm here because they’ve not actually been harvested yet (fingers crossed for sun from now to October). No, this was our very own Château La Clarière Laithwaite 2009 – made by our Henry – that had been chosen for this dinner.
I hope Her Majesty really liked it. She seemed very happy. It might be a bit on the young side, I worried … for someone with as good and ancient a cellar as the Royal Family undoubtedly has.
Madame Cassin would have burst with pride. “Ca Alors!” “Pouf!” For La Clarière comes from vineyards in the village of Ste Colombe that were in her family for centuries. And Madame – my teacher in all things traditionally French – always described herself as a ‘Royaliste’ (she wanted the French king back. Neither she nor Monsieur had any time for modern leaders; though actually, he was staunchly ‘Bonapartiste’ … such arguments they had!)
Thanks to kind customers; saintly old Canon Bentley and his sweet wife, I once got them seats in St George’s Chapel for the Garter Ceremony. Gosh, they loved that! But today, yep, certainly both would have burst.
When they sold their vineyards to Barbara and I, they challenged us to make wine good enough to show the world what Castillon could do. We work at it.
B and I were out in Bordeaux last weekend checking things over now the long, long winter is over. Ste Colombe was soon a-buzz with news of the impending Royal Degustation of a Colombien wine! “Ha! Another one in the eye for those cocky, damned St Emilionais next door”.
In our Castillon region we see we are definitely on the way up and righting those ancient wrongs. “Voyez … we always said our wine was better!! Vive Sa Majesté”.
It is never forgotten around here that it was the Castillonais who begged for the English King’s army to come and throw out the unpleasant “maudit” troops of the ‘foreign’ French (worse – Parisian) king.
Castillon always wanted to keep their English king. They did for 300 years. Good for the wine trade, you see. But the battle in 1453 went the wrong way of course and in punishment the town’s castle was totally destroyed. (One bit of wall remains; now the back wall of our Chai au Quai).
That battle is re-fought in Castillon-la-Bataille most summer weekends by a cast of hundreds, in front of audiences of thousands. Spectacular. Always the same result though.