A Visit to Clos Rougeard, 2015

There are worse places to kick your heels than the courtyard of Clos Rougeard, on the Rue d’Église, in Chacé. In truth, I believe there are a great many worse places, a conclusion I have come to quite recently, having put this belief to the test by diligently kicking my heels here for half an hour or so. It is not the dusty limestone walls and loose gravel of the courtyard that makes it so good. Nor is it the warm sun beating down from the crystal blue sky, the rays setting the bronze-plated street lights on the rue ablaze. No, it is because if you find yourself kicking your heels in this particular courtyard, it can mean only one thing. You’re waiting for Nady Foucault. And that means you’re waiting for a tasting at Clos Rougeard.

One thing you can perhaps be sure of if you come here to Clos Rougeard these days is that you won’t be kicking your heels alone. I arrived at the same time as several other UK wine trade gods, including Dan Keeling of Noble Rot magazine and wine bar, and Matt Wilkin of London wine merchants H2Vin. This sounds like a remarkable coincidence, but was merely the result of us all having just left Domaine Guiberteau at the same time, where we had also been tasting together. But this was no cosy affair just for us three. There was half a dozen in our group, and it wasn’t long before numerous other merchants, cavistes and fellow malingerers turned up, from across France, from Switzerland and from Italy. There were, in fact, too many for me to be sure exactly where they all came from; by the time the flow of eager tasters into the courtyard had been stemmed, there were more then twenty of us. We set about kicking our heels in time as best we could.

Clos Rougeard

Times have changed for Clos Rougeard; it seems to me that in the past five or ten years the wine world has finally caught on to its existence. It does not seem that long ago since I was a lone figure hammering on the anonymous grey gate on the Rue d’Église looking to gain entry, much to the amusement (or possibly bemusement, or maybe just annoyance) of their elderly neighbour. It was, in fact, less than fifteen years ago. Today the grey gate remains locked most of the time, anonymous as ever, the only difference now is that I doubt I would be hammering alone. In the time that has passed, the Foucault brothers have continued to work in the same manner as always; in doing so, however, they have gone from being viticultural pariahs ridiculed for their old-fashioned approach to enjoying the kind of worship usually reserved for the leaders of obscure cults and ancient deities. Now it seems everybody wants the wine. And everybody wants to visit here.

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