Sunday, 15 December 2013

The little conspiracy

What a surprise to have tasted Chateau La Connivence, the labour of love of four friends, including two ex-footballers, an engineer and Aléxandre de Malet Roquefort, the gentleman who poured the wine for us at Wellspring's recent Hong Kong trade tasting.

I was tasting some whites with Eddie from Cru Magazine when we were urged to try La Connivence, a red from Pomerol, on the other side of the room first, as it would not be available for long. We duly did so and were thankful for it.

There were four wines, from 2008, the first vintage, to 2011. All were left over (about 1/5 of the bottle) from its launch dinner the previous evening, but despite the condition they were not disappointing at all. I liked their elegance, even though the alcohol level was up around 14%-14.5%. The 2010 was my favourite with good concentration and firm acidity. My comment to Aléxandre was that the wine was not at all Parker-like. He gleamed, obviously enjoying the comment. Although vinification of La Connivence uses all the latest gadgets, including a blower to shoo away bad berries, Aléxandre insists it is the soil that gives the wine its identity and which therefore should be respected.

Aléxandre also runs Chateau La Gaffeliere in St Emilion, a family winery with 17 generations of history. Both St Emilion and Pomerol are Merlot dominated but Pomerol is more delicate, more feminine and more sensitive, according to Aléxandre. This assertion was clearly reflected in the wine as we also tried his La Gaffeliere for comparison.

Aléxandre explained that La Connivence means ‘little secret’, and the wine is the little secret among the four friends. With only one hectare of land, a maximum of 3,000 bottles production, and an allocation of only ten 6-bottle cases plus a few large formats for Hong Kong, wine lovers will certainly want to keep it a little secret. Google translates Connivence more literally as connivance or conspiracy ... which perhaps is more true!

Both La Connivance and La Gaffeliere are available from Wellspring Wines.

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