Goedhuis & Domaine Begude have worked together since 2003, their brilliant value entry level Chardonnay always one of the most quaffable, reliable and best value wines on our list. I am now so pleased to introduce this new beauty to the list: Chardonnay 'Terroir 11300' Vin de Pays d'Oc Domaine Begude 2019 at £10.95/bottle inc vat.
This terrific very ‘tres Begude’ style Chardonnay is called Terroir 11300 which refers to the post code of the cool climate village of Cepie where this deliciously refreshing, mineral, organic Chardonnay is crafted by our old friend, the Begude dude, James Kinglake. 11300 is the best expression of this wonderful terroir, where you get a wonderful balance of honeyed fruit and crisp, citrus minerality. Works on its own or with food and is great value.
I am also delighted to share this profile of Domaine Begude by our great friend and brilliant wine writer, Matthew Jukes. He has kindly allowed us to share his full review. There is a certain amount of free content on his website, but for his excellent annual reports you need to subscribe – currently a very modest £60 per year and highly recommended.
James and Catherine Kinglake bought Domaine Begude, an idyllic vineyard and winery, back in 2003. 11300 is the postcode for the little village of Cépie, in the Limoux sub-region of the Languedoc, 15 miles southwest of Carcassonne. High on the hillside above Cépie is where James and Catherine organically tend their vines, making delicious and amazingly well-priced wines.
I first met this delightful couple back in 1999 when I was touring with my first wine book. It was at Waterstones in Clapham where we caught up and, while I signed a book for them, they told me that they were thinking of giving up City life and going to make wine in France. Of course, I told them they were fools. We kept in touch and when James and I met a few months later he showed me a few prospectuses of wineries for sale. One particular property caught my eye. I looked at a map of the vineyard and, given the fact there was Chardonnay planted coupled with the fact that the contour lines suggested some altitude (330m+), I asked James was this Begude? The name of the property was confidential, and not noted on the documents but, judging by my experience of tasting Begude wines in the UK, I thought that it was a very good chance that this was the very same property! Fine Chardonnays, from cool-climate regions in the South of France, were very thin on the ground twenty years ago and this was already a favourite property of mine and one I had mentioned in my column in the Daily Mail a good few times so I was fascinated to hear that it was, indeed, Begude. Without hesitation, I said that they should seriously consider looking at this estate. It was on the top of James’s hit list, too, and not long after this, they bought the land and fully renovated the house and the winery. I visited them soon after and experienced for myself exactly why this is such a special place.
It is no surprise that this ‘postcode’ wine so accurately reflects its origins. I will never forget standing on their lawn, with an uninterrupted view of the Pyrenees some 80 miles away, and breathing in the cool, breezy air. A faint saline tang manages to make its way up from the Med and, added to a hint of lemony pine resin from the tall trees shading the property, the perfume was both invigorating and mouth-watering. These dynamic tasting notes are found in every wine that is made under this label and it gives them uniqueness and authenticity which oceans of other wines desperately lack.
2019 Terroir 11300 Chardonnay is a beauty. With a smattering of carpentry (a mere 15% is barrel-fermented in 600L demi-muids while the rest sees stainless steel), this is a slender, resonant Chardonnay with a keen, bone-dry, acidic finish and wonderful citrus and ozone detail. If Chablis was plonked down 25 miles from the Mediterranean its wines would taste like this! The organic mantra gives this wine undoubted ‘vif’, or liveliness, which means that it ploughs its own furrow on your taste buds, making them stand to attention and listen carefully to its song.
While this is an accomplished aperitif style, there is more food-matching skill here that meets the eye. When I was buying the wines for Bibendum Restaurant, in the Michelin Building, in London (I held this position for 26 years, from 1990 - 2016), I listed Begude Chardonnay (a wine that was actually one notch down the ladder from my featured Terroir 11300) as ‘House Chardonnay’ in the Oyster Bar on the ground floor of this iconic building. It was, perhaps, one of only a handful of wines from the 1000-strong wine cellar which had a good stab at going with every single dish on the OB’s menu. Simon Hopkinson was the chef at Bibendum, at the time, and so the menu was sheer heaven. The food was sublime and when Burgundies and Loires came up short, Begude kept its character and romanced every dish and all who tasted it.
At £10.95 per bottle, this wine is your very own ‘house Chardonnay’ for the summer of 2020 and I hope that you love it as much as I do. Leaving all of the aforementioned nostalgia aside, this is a bloody brilliant wine. 17/20 (drink now - 2021)