Thanks to a rapidly warming climate and increasing levels of wine-making nous, English wine is getting better by the year. It seems a shame then that former IT man Mark Hellyar chose to see his vision of creating a "modern boutique wine" through, not in his native Cornwall, but instead on Bordeaux's right bank.
Though we should be glad he did. Teaming up with wine consultant Olivier Dauga to find the ideal location for his vineyard, Hellyar eventually settled with a neglected 18th century Chateau, and his first bottle (minimal packaging and charming back story aside) is a joy to behold.
Designed as a fusion of "the quality of the old world, but with the approachability of the new", Hellyar's claret is a rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot. Produced with hand harvested grapes and new oak barrels (in a bid to avoid chemical treatments), the "new claret" achieves some remarkably mature, complex notes. The light, citrus open gives way to a creamy, oaky, mouth-filling fruitiness, the likes of which you'd expect to have been created more by a Marc, than a Mark.
Chateau Civrac is available from www.civrac.com for £13.99, it can also be found on wine lists around the UK including Michel Roux Jr at the Le Gavroche, La Pont de la Tour and Angelus.
Words by Teo van den Broeke