Provence Food and Wine by Mary Dowey


Château Unang


84570 Malemort-du-Comtat
0033 (0) 4 90 69 91 37

James in the vineyardThe scale of the place seems daunting. An immense château, owned by the bishopric of Venasque for 800 years, looms over vineyards in one vast plot stretching out in all directions. And the scale of the project to renovate house and land seems equally daunting – because when James and Joanna King bought Château Unang in 2000 it was in a run-down state.

Did he ever feel he had taken on too much? ‘Once a month, at least,’ says King, a shy Scot with a background in agriculture. ‘The improvement in the quality of the wines is what keeps us going. When we arrived they were light and rustic. Now they really are much better.’

Organically farmed for the past seven years, Château Unang is the perfect spot to deliver on James King’s objective: ‘Grenache with freshness – not just weight’. Situated up close to the shoulder of Mont Ventoux, the property incorporates one of the Nesque gorges – so cool that frost can linger there until mid-May – and a 350m hill behind the house where Grenache on sandy soil is also a crucial element in Unang’s silkily restrained, elegant wines.

La Source, about 55% Syrah with Grenache and Cinsault, is a finely poised, savoury red underpinned by tangy minerality. The top wine La Croix, based mainly on Grenache from those upper terraces, is markedly richer but still stamped by exemplary freshness. Sample them both in the château’s attractive tasting room – and you shouldn’t leave empty-handed.

Written by Mary Dowey

15th January 2013


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