Yesterday saw the launch of northern France’s first white wine, grown on a slag heap in Haillicourt. Rather aptly, its producers have branded it Charbonnay.
It was only a matter of time before the region began producing wine.
The slag heap’s slope – of up to 80 degrees – and the wind make this an ideal environment for the vines. Global warming is, clearly, playing its part too.
Apparently, though, this area used to produce wines back in the Middle Ages.
Volunteers pick the grapes, as this clip from France 3 Hauts-de-France shows.
French wine law had previously prevented wine from being produced in this area, but with a nudge from the EU, it is now possible. The last few years year have seen a number of vineyards spring up across the region.
Sadly, I won’t get to try this vintage. Just 500 bottles have been produced – and they’ve been set aside for three wine sellers in the region, all of whom have pre-sold their stock.
Elsewhere in Hauts-de-France, vignerons are making wines using the kinds of French grapes that appreciate cooler temperatures, namely Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
So, hopefully, in future years, I’ll be able to try these.
By that time, we’ll be running our own cheese-and-wine bar. We’d planned to offer a taste of northern France, with cheeses and complementary beers.
We could offer northern French wines as well.
Mind you, we’d probably need the prices to come down. Charbonnay currently retails at a whopping 70 € a bottle…
Photo © Matthieu Botte/La Voix du Nord