A little Quercy vineyard
Many people would love to own a property in the beautiful South of France. Most hanker after a little stone cottage; a few are more ambitious and would like either an old farmhouse or perhaps a maison de maitre, even a small chateau. But for a few, the glorious south means only one thing, vines, and if they’re going to buy anything at all it’s going to be a vineyard.
David and Sarah Meakin fall neatly into that third category. They moved here ten years ago with enough money to buy forty hectares of agricultural land, five of which were laid to vine, and very little else. Although David had a farming background, they knew nothing about the winemaking industry and were well aware that they were in for an uphill struggle. They and their two young children Sophie and Zachary have thrown themselves into French country life and by dint of hard work, friendly neighbours and the usual soupcon of luck, they now have a thriving vineyard. The Domaine de Merchien is tucked away near Belfort Du Quercy in the southeastern corner of this ancient region. It’s therefore not possible to make a Cahors AOC – which is strictly limited to the designated area west of Cahors. The splendid wines of the southern region are the Coteaux de Quercy. Sarah and David make some of the best around – just consult the Guide Hachette – they rely on good quality grapes and a herbicide-free weeding programme and their success has even paved the way for others to follow.
The Domaine also has a rather tasty Vin Du Pays Du Lot. As with most vineyards in this area visitors are warmly encouraged, so you could arrange a petit degustation one afternoon and afterwards perhaps wander on to the delightful bastide village of Puylaroque or the thriving old town of St Antonin de Noble Val for a little supper to finish a gastronomic day out.
If you’ve always fancied having a bit of a go at being a vigneron yourself, but either don’t have the time, the wherewithal or the inclination to go the whole hog, David and Sarah also offer a rent-a-row of vines scheme. You can rent your row and get discounted prices on the end product. You can also go and give a hand with the harvest if you feel so inclined. It’s a great way to learn the ins and outs of the business, and it beats a fruit-picking holiday in Kent now doesn’t it?
© Amanda Lawrence 2005
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To find out more about the wines of Domaine du Merchien, visit David and Sarah’s website