More about Domaine de Mourchon
The McKinley family founded Domaine de Mourchon in 1998 in an isolated valley between the beautiful villages of Séguret and Mont Ventoux in the Côte du Rhône....
The McKinley family founded Domaine de Mourchon in 1998 in an isolated valley between the beautiful villages of Séguret and Mont Ventoux in the Côte du Rhône. The vineyard had 20 hectares of old vines but no winemaking facilities so the McKinlay family built a cellar with the latest technology. Organic techniques have been used from the beginning, with an aim to be fully certified by 2020. Combined with modern technologies and careful cultivation, the domaine is known for producing well-structured, rich wines with pronounced fruit aromas.
You’re a family-run business, what are the challenges of working with relatives?
There are definitely pros and cons of working across generations. Experience is a fine thing to have in business as it can help mitigate risk and bring confidence and authenticity to what we do however, in these rapidly changing times experience can sometimes get in the way of innovation which is why we are waiting impatiently for the next generation to come of age.
You follow an organic viticulture approach, what’s the kind of work that you do at the winery? It is not difficult for us to work organically thanks to the nature of our terroir. We are at 350 meters altitude and our vines are planted on steep slopes which means rainwater drains easily and the vines are exposed to plenty of sun and Mistral wind which comes from the North to dry up any lingering humidity and clear away the bugs. We are surrounded by woodland and olive groves which ensure a healthy biodiversity.
Do you have a good anecdote about the winery?
The winery very nearly didn’t get built and only went ahead because serendipity intervened. In the 1970s Walter’s work in oil and gas took them to Aberdeen, Scottland, where Ronnie opened a restaurant serving a house wine from Vaqueyras, a village near Séguret. Years later, searching for a vineyard they found the vines for sale in Séguret and had a coup du coeur for the place. However, they were advised not to buy because it was unlikely that they would get planning permission to build the winery and house from the local Marie who was not accustomed to outsiders coming in to the industry. Undeterred Walter went to meet the Mayor and was astonished to find that they in fact new each other as the Mayor had been a regular customer at Ronnie’s restaurant when he was working as an engineer and visited Aberdeen often. The rest is history!
St Joseph and Cornas also provide wines of weight and worth, but the best source for good value is Crozes-Hermitage, a satellite appellation which has come alive in the last few years with the arrival of young blood.
The river valley widens out south of Valence into Côtes du Rhône country on the windy alluvial plains and the lower slopes of the hills. It is a most imposing sight during the cold, clear, blue skies of Mistral conditions. The best of the wine villages of the Côtes du Rhône have been promoted to their own appellations - Vinsobres, Vacqueyras - close in quality to the better known Gigondas.
The king of the southern Rhône is Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Here the galets roulés, rounded rocks from the ancient river bed, provide the context for gloriously rich red wines that are redolent of the heat and herbs of the south, and enhanced by the complexity which comes from blending several grape varieties. Thirteen are permitted in all, but Grenache usually dominates, along with Syrah and Mourvèdre in support. A fine vintage needs eight to 10 years cellaring for best results.
If your taste runs to fuller, richer, relatively exotic white wines, then perhaps a white Hermitage or Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Rhône Valley would suit better, or else a marvellously perfumed, heady Condrieu - headquarters of the Viognier grape.