There is a diversity of small producers in Bordeaux that need to be reflected. Most do the hard work themselves with little help, yet have the enthusiasm, know-how and love of vine to produce stunning wines at reasonable prices.
These are people like Dawn Jones-Cooper at Château de Monfaucon in Entre-Deux-Mers, or the Bessard/Milhard family at Château Vieux Mougnac in the Bordeaux Superiore AOC outside of Saint-Emilion. And Guillaume and Rachel Hubert at Château la Grolet continue to farm the estate biodynamically in the Côte de Bourgs.
This list is far from exhaustive and Fronsac adds to it with a new, very small producer: Chateau George 7.
British born owner, Sally Evans, is a combination of business savvy, friendly hospitality, innovation and energy. She needed all of these to establish and open her winery in Fronsac on the north bank of the Dordogne. I caught up with her last week via Skype to learn more.
From the UK, Evans lived in Provence for years while working and raising two boys. Upon retiring from a successful consulting career, she knew she needed a project and dove into one of her loves, wine. A few years and a WSET diploma later she bought three hectares of Merlot vines with a rickety cellar building and cottage, turning the property into a winery.
Evans secured a like-minded estate manager then began work making the property more sustainable. She renovated the out building into a modern tasting lounge with a small kitchen (opened July 2020) and the cottage is now her home.
When it comes to sustainability, Evans has a pragmatic down to earth view with less of a focus on organic versus non-organic. Having a natural balance is key but if one needs help with somethings there’s nothing wrong with that. And she believes one must not forget the economic and social factors of an operation- they are key.
Along those lines, she sells beer from a nearby brewery and wines from her neighbors in the Chateau George 7 lounge- it really is a local business. People supporting people.
When it comes to oenotourism, Evans’ people-oriented personality makes it easy. Although 2020 was challenging, she offered a variety of visit options including apéro on the terrace at sunset, a vineyard walk followed by a wine tasting lunch and more. Ideas continually flow; the winery hosted a yoga retreat last summer. This all comes back around to supporting and promoting both the Fronsac appellation and overall Bordeaux region where oenotourism is key.
When it comes to wine, her first vintage was 2018 with what the French call a Grand Vin and also a wine to enjoy any day. Evans refers to them as ‘Indulge Yourself’ and ‘Share and Savor’. The 2020 vintage will include a white wine. Quantities hover around 9,000 bottles.
“Our mission at Château George 7 is to make wines that capture the essence of the potential of Fronsac today: fruit-forward, fresh with a touch of minerality from the underlying limestone along with silky tannins and a lingering elegance and finesse.” Sally Evans
Evans’ outlook is refreshing and similar to many of the next generation in Bordeaux- being open and accessible to people so they get to know you and what’s in the glass. Evans plans to do “Live at the Winery” Instagram sessions to help people understand what’s going on under her label.
In the meantime, if the several awards her 2018 George 7 received are any indication, she’s headed in a very positive direction and I cannot wait to visit!
Chateau George 7 Tidbits:
The name? George means “soil tiller” or farmer in Greek. I could tell you more but will let Sally tell you in her own words here.
In the cellar, Evans and her consultant work with 500 liter oak barrels and two amphorae (clay and terra cotta). Fermentations are with indigenous yeasts.
The estate holds HVE (Haute Valeur Environmentale) certification.
This is my second article for the #Winophiles January theme: What’s new in Bordeaux. Click over to Sustainability, Adaptation and Oenotourism Evolve in Bordeaux for more on Bordeaux.
Fronsac (and Canon-Fronsac)
About 6 kilometers (10 miles) west and north from the village of Saint-Emilion you find the Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac AOCs. The areas sit on hills and plateaus of clay and limestone soils. In fact their terroir is very similar to that of Saint-Emilion.
Only red wine is produced per appellation rules focusing on Cabernet Franc and Merlot with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The wines are known for their fruitiness, richness, complexity and are sometimes rustic. They have excellent, under the radar value
Most wineries are small and family owned with a high percentage of international châteaux owners such as Christian Moueix (Dominus Estate, Château la Fleur-Pétrus, Château Trotanoy)
Click to the recent AdVINEtures article for more on Fronsac!
- Information Links
Council of Fronsac wines (Conseil de Vins de Fronsac)
- Vins Fronsac
- Chateau George 7
- Fronsac Wines Maintain their Excellent Price to Quality Ratio
What an absolute find! Love Sally’s story and her determination to have her own winery. Sounds like she’s doing everything right and that tasting room looks beyond inviting…when are we going?!
It was one of those stumble upon stumbles where my gut said call this woman. I’m so glad I did, Sally is a breath of invigorating air. I’d love to go with you two!
Refreshing indeed! Uplifting. People helping others. Involving family. Sustainability. And supporting local.
More of this is just good.
This winery, this woman just oozes these things. It’s spectacular!
I love how you are able to bring us these inside looks at the Bordeaux region. From afar it is easy to believe it is all made up of Giant fancy Chateaux that are stuffy and out of reach for many. You allow us to see the smaller side of this region and get to know real people with amazing stories.
Thank you for sharing Sally’s story with Chateau George 7!
Absolutely Robin, I enjoy highlighting the smaller wineries as they are often the source of great wines and are within reach!
Great to know about this chateau. There’s definitely a difference in over all hospitality of wineries in Bordeaux and knowing one who will accept you with open arms is nice. To be honest, I’ve kind of given up on Bordeaux wineries for the most part because so many of them are stuffy. The heck with that!
I understand what you are saying Eileen. However I find many Chateaux in Bordeaux are really making an effort these days. People tend to focus on only the big names yet Bordeaux has so much more to offer. I hope your experiences are better in the future, and definitely hope you make it to Chateau George 7!