Quotes & memories from our Vineyard Partners …
Recently we invited some of our Partners to write about their experiences at 3D. We were overwhelmed by the responses. Sadly, there wasn’t enough space to print all the articles, so here are just a few. What it does show is the immense interest and passion our Partners have in being able to visit their vineyards and meet the incredible characters who make their wine. Drinking a glass of wine after meeting the winemaker who made it, and seeing their vines really does make it a very special experience.
‘It’s Christmas 2007 and my long suffering wife is faced with her annual deliberations about what to buy me for Christmas. It’s not that I don’t have any passions or interests but none of them lend themselves to conspicuous consumption.
A friend made a suggestion that would have unforeseen and beneficial consequences “why not buy him a wine club membership”? We were both enthusiastic imbibers, knowing what we like without any particular knowledge of grape varieties, regions or the numerous variables that contribute to a good wine.
My initial trepidation, fuelled by years of slightly staid conservative behaviour was dispelled fairly quickly. The membership of 3D wines gives you the opportunity to meet people of disparate backgrounds and experience in a convivial setting. Joined as you are by a common love of wine, organized by knowledgeable friendly folk at 3D and hosted by vignerons who are personable, invariably gregarious the weekends are an assured success. I am writing this just a month away from our next wine trip; Tuscany, a first for 3D.
The weekends pass all too quickly, evenings of fine dining in lovely restaurants, each course served with wines knowledgeably described, the days, with numerous tastings, and a picnic in the vineyard. All too quickly you have chosen which wines to take home and said goodbye to a host of new friends with the cheerful expectation that you may meet again next year.
My wife will still have the annual agonies of a suitable gift at Christmas but some of our leisure breaks for next year are already “pencilled in”.’
‘We have been Partners for almost 12 years following a present that was given to me by my brother and sister-in-law for my 50th birthday.
We have moved regions a few times and now have three, which has something to do with the amount of wine we drink and enjoy!
What is so wonderful, is the variety not just between the red and white wines, but the different complexity of the tastes from the different regions within France.
The recent addition of both New Zealand and Tuscany wines have added to the choice that is available but the quality of the wines and the uniqueness of the family of winemakers is so exceptional.
We have now experienced four different weekend tasting experiences including the inaugural Truffle weekend in the Rhône which was a fascinating experience. The Bordeaux weekend with a visit to crazy ‘Vincent’ from Château Rousselle, the flamboyant Karin Burnaleau from Château Mongravey with their beautiful Margaux and not least Jean-Michel and Françoise Baudet from Château Monconseil-Gazin. The food and wine on this ‘experience’ were simply wonderful and is an absolute must do for all Bordeaux red wine lovers.
We have attended Cave Ouverte at Maison Lenique every year since we have been members and is probably our favourite event. The very fact that there are so many winemakers present with their wonderful array of wines makes it even more enjoyable. We have regularly filled the car boot to bursting point with so many bottles and the trip is timed so well to be able to stock up the cellar for Christmas! We always seem to bring our friends to this event too and they soon become members themselves! We actually have a waiting list of friends who want to come as well. This should not be missed especially as it is now a bi-annual event.
Finally, this year for the first time we visited the wonderful region of the Loire for the Sancerre picnic weekend. Well, what can we say … from the marvellous food at La Tour restaurant on the first night to the charming hospitality of Pierre Riffault at his vineyard where we enjoyed the most wonderful afternoon picnic. We even managed to get him to smile for the camera, well Sandra did!
We really feel being a partner at 3D is like being part of a family, it’s so much more than just a wine club!’
David & Karen Hill
‘My introduction to 3D came in the 90s. I bought a row of vines for my husband. It was Saumur-Champigny from Domaine de la Cune. We then decided to try some of the events that were organised by 3D. The weekend in the Lake District in the autumn which was great fun, as well as great food and wine. We also did the picnic that was organised at Domaine de la Cune. All the events were well organised but the wine tasting and picnics were superb.
Another highlight was one of the weekends organised at Maison Lenique for collecting our millennium champagne. It was great to see the men trying to open the bottles with a sword. They loved it.
The food was lovely the music and dancing divine and oh the champagne flowed. WOW! It was a good thing that coaches were organised for us all to get back to the hotels.
I was thrilled when 3D introduced the Kahurangi range of wines. I come from Nelson and new the vineyard before Greg and family took it on. They have really enhanced it and their wines are very competitive, I love them. Well done 3D!’
‘It started with a gift … choosing the vineyard was easy as my late father had often talked about time he’d spent in Epernay many years previously, and both my wife and I love champagne. My wife had also been a Mumm Chef of the Year in the UK during her time at college, so the link to champagne was all too strong to be ignored! We thus went for Maison Lenique, and looked forward eagerly to our first “crop” from the vines in 2001, which we decided to go and collect from Pierry in France. We weren’t disappointed, the champagne was fabulous.
It transpired that that summer there was champagne banquet being held at Maison Lenique, so we combined that event with collecting the champagne. During the event, members of the Confrerie des Sacres de la Champagne visited and demonstrated the art of sabrage – the opening of a bottle of champagne with a sabre. There was a raffle style draw for the five people who would be lucky enough to have a go at sabrage with the Confrerie members, and I was fortunate enough to be drawn out of the hat, and so had a go at sabreing the champagne bottle. What I didn’t know at the time was that if one successfully sabred a bottle, that automatically conferred ‘Ecuyer’ or ‘squire’ (my attempted translation of the French) membership of the Confrerie. We were thus very surprised to get an invite through the post for the Grand Chapitre de Printemps dinner the next year. We decided to attend, and enjoyed it so much (and drank so much champagne!) that we attended for 4-5 more consecutive years, bringing a few friends each time – who also thoroughly enjoyed these wonderful occasions. The Confrerie officers seemed so impressed by the fact that British people had regularly turned up that I was conferred as Ambassadeur de Grande Bretagne de la Confrerie des Sacres de la Champagne, which required me to sabre a magnum of champagne!
We still continue with our Champagne vineyard, and now also have an option on the Grand Cru (incredible champagne – a real special treat, and the envy of most of our friends when they try it on a visit to us!). We have now broadened our 3D experience to include Sancerre (Loire) and also Rully (Burgundy) and try to visit France twice a year if we can to collect wine, visit the vignerons, and just enjoy the relaxed pace of life that epitomises is good food and wine in France. We’ve even visited Fresne Ducret for the champagne blending experience to learn (and experience) how difficult (and fun) it can be to ‘assemble’ a quality champagne. We’ve also had three or four visits to the excellent Cave Ouvert at Maison Lenique. Our knowledge of wine has improved, our French is also improved (I hope), and we’ve met wonderful people (both the vignerons and 3D Partners) with a simple, unpretentious, down to earth passion for good wine. Also with our annual allocation of Cuvée 3D from Maison Lenique, Sundays have now developed from ‘the day of rest’ to ‘the day of rest with champagne’!
And to think, it started with a gift … ‘
‘The first ever visit to the Open Cave at Maison Lenique is a stand out memory. Being a dedicated champagne drinker since 18 to be able to stay in Msr Chandon’s old home in Epernay was akin to a lifelong football fan spending the weekend with David Beckham. It was a delight to visit the cave and see the whole process and product in its natural state, from sweeping vine clad hills to the bottles being turned in the dark caves. The chance to sample a wide range of tastes from the 3D family of vignerons led to my father-in-law signing up to Montirius for their glorious bio dynamic reds. I’d like to say we had some photo’s but by the end of the day nobody had a steady hand to take any!
The gathering of vignerons at Denbies was a truly unique event. We took our son and daughter-in-law along to introduce them to the 3D experience and they thoroughly enjoyed every minute. All the various producers were very keen to impress with their excellent wines in such a magnificent setting.
To enjoy the 3D experience to its full we took a trip to the Loire Valley with our son and daughter-in-law, visiting many of the fabulous châteaux in that region along the way. We explained that we would pick up our wine from a vineyard in that area but when we pulled up at Gilles Soirin’s ivy clad tin shed the look of dismay on their faces was a picture! However after a whole afternoon spent in Gilles company in the vineyard inspecting the vines and grapes, along with numerous samplings we left with a boot load of cases, some of his speciality Rochefort de Layon wine and some very happy faces. We spent that night at the spectacular Châteaux Reilly de Bellay hotel, a fitting end to a memorable day!
‘At a 3D London wine tasting evening in London last year we tried a fantastic Lussac from St-Emilion. Reading the tasting notes, however, we noticed that this wine could only be purchased direct from the vineyard from July onwards. Realising that we were going to be passing through that region at the beginning of July it made perfect sense to stop by, pay the vineyard a visit.
So, having made the arrangements through Debbie at 3D we arrived at our hotel – the Hostellerie de Roques in Puisseguin. The weather was scorching hot and we were thankful for the outdoor swimming pool at the hotel, not to mention the large airy room overlooking the grounds and vineyards surrounding the chateau. Stunning!
The following day we made our way to St-Emilion to visit Château Cardinal Villemaurine at the pre-arranged time. It was another scorcher of a day as we entered the reception area at the front of the vineyard. We were greeted by Virginie, a very helpful young lady who spoke perfect English. Virginie began her tour by giving us a brief history of the vineyard and of the wines of St-Emilion. She then suggested we might want to put on a jacket before we went down to the cellars, which are a constant 12⁰ C. We replied that we would be fine and would welcome being cooled down, as the heat showed no sign of abating! Also, being English we are quite used to a cooler climate, anyway.
Virginie explained that the cellars were old quarry mines that run underneath the town of St-Emilion and were now used by the many vineyards in the area as they were the perfect storing conditions for the wines produced there. The tour was interesting and informative, with Virginie proving to be a very knowledgeable guide. After our tour she was happy to recommend some restaurants for us to visit for lunch. On her recommendation we found a lovely restaurant near the top of the town where we could sit outside under parasols eating salmon cooked over vine leaves. Washed down with some local wine it was truly a memorable experience.’
‘We have been 3D members since 1995 and have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the domaines and tasting the wines from all over France. We have been Partners with a range of wine makers and over the years have switched between Burgundy, Bordeaux, Chablis and now the Loire. We enjoy the tastings, but the tours of the cellars and the vineyards in all weathers and times of the year is what makes the partnership so special.
We have many wonderful memories of 3D trips: the Givry Fête, the Sancerre and Alsace weekends, Cragwood and wine tastings around the UK.
However, our first visit to Maison Lenique for the annual 3D event in November was quite memorable – an excellent tour, great tastings of the full range of 3D Partners’ wines and an enjoyable lunch, all in the marvellous cellars.
Well done 3D and best wishes for the future.’
Gordon & Mary Jones
‘Several years ago were having a dinner party and serving with the main course one of our favourite wines – Des Lys from Domaine les Roche Bleu in Brouilly. Everyone was remarking how nice the wine is and discussing 3D wines and how it works. Then one of the guests asked to see the bottle and then announced they knew that vigneron well as it is about 100 metres from their house in Brouilly. So the next time we went to Roche Bleu we met our friends from the dinner party there and stayed at their house in Brouilly. Today it is a standard part of our annual journey to France that we stay at their house and visit Roche Bleu, Colonat and Madone to pick up our wines and have an extended tasting session.’