Swapping stationery for secondary fermentation has proved a success for the Ryman family. Their Château de la Jaubertie has helped owner Hugh Ryman make a name for himself in the world of wine.
The subject came up over dinner this week when I served a bottle of the château’s white Mirabelle, from 2011. This is its more upmarket blend, using grapes from the best parcels of land on the estate.
We had friends Jenny and Keeley over for dinner. Both own houses in Castillonnès, 20 minutes south of Bergerac and a few short miles from Colombier, home of Château de la Jaubertie.
The wine is a terrific mix of semillon and sauvignon that is then aged in oak barrels. It has been compared to a good-quality white Graves but offers much better value.
Stationery millionaire Nick Ryman originally bought the estate in the early 1970s after selling his chain of shops to the Burton group. He later sold the château to his son, Hugh.
Over the years, the family gained many accolades for the way it had transformed both the wine and the business. They imported new world winemaking techniques. They admit that this led to lower quality mass production in the early years, but they have since refined their techniques to place greater emphasis on quality.
There were some shaky moments in the late 1990s when it looked as though the family might have to sell the vineyard, but they have recovered.
Sat in the garden of a sunny summer’s evening, their white Mirabelle proved the perfect accompaniment to our meal – and some amusing reminiscences about Castillonnès, Colombier and Bergerac.