On Wine

Keeping it in the family

Christopher Pincher on Michael Fabricant and those who require vineyards to be family-owned

My colleague Michael Fabricant is a man of taste. His home, part of the precincts of Lichfield Cathedral, is elegantly and comfortably furnished. His walls are hung with drawings of Westminster chosen carefully to create a pleasing political effect. His carpets are rich; his seating is soft; and he keeps an excellent cellar.

The last time I visited Vicar’s Hall he bounded to the door, two crystal rummers in one hand while the other pointed excitedly the way within. “Come in, come in, I’ve got something to show you and want to know what you think” was his opening gambit. The glasses gave the game away and so I was not surprised, on entering the congenial sitting-room, to be guided towards a mahogany tilt-top table supporting a single bottle which was quickly quaffed.

Famille Perrin’s Les Cardinaux (available from the Co-op and Tesco) has every right to stand splendid and alone, in isolated anticipation of being drunk. A delicate mixture of Grenache, Syrah and magical Mourvèdre from the southern Rhône valley combines to create a lovely ruby liquid, humming with red currants, plum and a touch of peppery herb.

Famille Perrin (an accurate appellation as there are at least six of them involved in their household enterprise) are one of the biggest guns in the Rhône armoury. They own the spectacularly successful Châteauneuf-du-Pape as well as other vineyards in Gigondas, Vacqueras and California.

They were early members of the Primum Familiae Vini, an exclusive elect of terroirists whose rules require that vineyards must be family-owned, that total membership is limited to 12, and that only unanimity grants access to the guild. Why? Because they know what they are brewing. The 2016 Les Cardinaux is more than ready to gulp and should be matched with strong red meats, game or any winter roast. It is not, however, for those determined upon New Year resolutions, unless of course you resolve to ignore them.

Jacques Perrin is not a man to be ignored, nor are his thoughts on the finer things. He believes “a fine wine must be the purest possible expression of the origin of taste”. He ought to meet Michael Fabricant, for they have much in common.

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