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STRAIGHT OFF THE VINE.

Byline: NeilCammies

This week I'd like to write a story about a Welsh girl who dreamed of becoming a doctor, and travelled to far-flung shores, only to meet and marry her Prince Charming and end up living in a castle with her three lovely sons.

So when Nicola Allison contacted me about joining her as a guest of the press visit to Graves and Pessac-Leognan in Bordeaux, the tale above was the last thing I thought I'd be writing about, but it all came true, oh the romance of it all.

Nicola, after studying to become a doctor in Cardiff went to practice medicine in Auckland, New Zealand. It was there she met Sean, a very successful man of finance and had two sons, Luca and JJ. While the lifestyle afforded them from their chosen professions was lavish, the hours spent at their jobs meant they were not spending as much family time as they'd like.

Then, twelve years ago an opportunity arose when Welsh couple Bob and Sue Watts, Nicola's mum and dad, decided to take a back seat from running Chateau du Seuil, which they acquired in 1988. Bob and Sue had renovated the chateau, built a modern winery and re-established many of the 'very' old vineyards.

So Sean and Allison made the huge decision to run the property and while being a tough existence, it can be a very rewarding one too, not necessarily financially though; Sean told me the secret to becoming a millionaire in wine... is to start a billionaire!

Since their move to Bordeaux they have found time to have another son, the wannabe superstar comedian Louis, and continued to grow their estate and acquire vineyards. The estate now totals 25 hectares, 15 in the Graves appellation and 10 in the premieres Cotes de Bordeaux. Alison and Sean gave me a tour around the property and vineyards and this really helped to illustrate the diversity in soil types; gravel here, slate there plus everything in between and the differing aspects of their vines. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, they are undergoing conversion to full organic certification.

The red varieties of merlot and cabernet sauvignon plus bits make up 65% and 35% of whites varieties, semillon and sauvignon blanc.

It was time to dive into the wines and we started with the CHATEAU DU SEUIL ROSE 2011. A big, richer style of pink filled with complex summer fruits that are tart and floral on the palate and carry that mineral note through the mid palate.

We moved on to the DOMAINE DU SEUIL BLANC 2011, a blend of 60% sauvignon and 40% semillon which had forthright aromatics in abundance and stone fruits that add weight and complexity while the CHATEAU DU SEUIL BLANC 2011 has a bounteous herbal nose with brisk minerality and exotic fruit throughout with a long elegant conclusion that is built for some ten years bottle age.

The CHATEAU DU SEUIL GRAVES is a blend of around 50% cabernet, 45% merlot and a touch of cabernet franc and sometimes a soupcon of petit verdot. This makes for a very fruit driven wine with the brilliant integration of oak adding weight, complexity and silkiness. A blinding, great value red Bordeaux.

Also, try and get your hands on it their sweet wine, the CHATEAU DU SEUIL CERONS, which is a world class sticky that has a racy dash of acidity that would make it a perfect aperitif as well as a wonderful partner to a tarte tatin. I drank it with a great chicken salad, but then again I'm a bit of a rebel.

Nicola is so proud of her Welsh heritage that not only is there a dragon on the gate as you enter the property, but it's also landed on the wine labels. Sean is currently in negotiations with his good lady to get a silver fern on there somewhere - fat chance!

| A range of these multi-award winning wines are being imported into Wales by Fines Wines Direct, Penarth Road, Cardiff, so get down there and stock up for Christmas and fascinate your family with tales of Bordeaux, Kiwis and dragons @NeilCammies neil.cammies@mediawales.co.uk

Sean told me the secret to becoming a millionaire in wine... is to start a billionaire!
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Oct 19, 2013
Words:712
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