Champagne corks are popping at Bon Coeur after the International Wine Challenge, writes Christine Austin

‘Sam and I collected the award, but really this is a win for the whole team.’  Jamie Goodhart was generous in his praise for the 18–strong team back at Bon Coeur Fine Wines in Melsonby after winning the award for Northern England Regional Merchant of 2018 in the International Wine Challenge.  Over 1000 people from the world’s wine trade were present at the prestigious event in central London to see Jamie and Samantha collect their award.

‘It is really important to praise the team’ said Jamie.  ‘We strive to over-deliver, not just on the quality of our wines but also on the level of service too, and the team make that happen.’  That service will soon get a lot better when the new air-conditioned bonded warehouse is finished.  That will allow wines bought in-bond, before UK duty is collected, to be on-site and under the watchful eye of Bon Coeur. ‘We do a tremendous amount of en-primeur business when wines are bought long before they are ready to drink. With our own bonded warehouse our customers can be confident that their wine is safe here in Yorkshire and that it is being stored in the right conditions for it to develop perfectly.’

Jamie and Samantha Goodhart established Bon Coeur almost 25 years ago and have built up an impressive range of top-quality wines, most of which cannot be found in supermarkets.  They deal with small producers around the world who don’t produce enough to be sold through the major chains.  It means that the Bon Coeur list is selective and studded with gems such as traditional top-notch Burgundy and Bordeaux as well as an exciting selection of wines from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

They moved into impressive new premises in Melsonby just a couple of years ago and now there is a retail shop, known as Cellar 21, together with their warehouse, offices and a set of stylishly designed rooms they call ‘The Tasting Rooms’ which can easily challenge any luxury venue in the region.  With a demonstration kitchen, white-topped tasting tables and separate events rooms they have the space to hold dinners, team building events and meetings.  These tasting rooms also act as a hub for learning about wine with regular events and tastings.  Upcoming events include a Calon Ségur dinner on 13 September, a Rioja tasting on 12 October and a Pol Roger tasting in November.  These events are often sold out early so the best way to find out what is happening is to get on the Bon Coeur mailshot list.  If you log on to the website there is a button to click to register your details, www.bcfw.co.uk

The shop is open 6 days a week and is well worth a visit.  There is parking outside and generally a few bottles are open for customers to taste.  Special offers that don’t quite make it to the website are available, and if you can’t decide what to buy there is helpful advice and a cup of coffee while you browse.

 

Bon Coeur were not the only Yorkshire winners in The International Wine Challenge. Yorkshire Heart Vineyard in Nun Monkton won Gold in the International Wine Challenge Cellar Door Awards which rewards those English vineyards that provide an outstanding service to visitors.  Only four Golds were awarded in this category which puts Yorkshire Heart Vineyard and Brewery amongst the best in the UK for a winery day out.

Chris and Gillian Spakouskas of Yorkshire Heart Vineyard

Other winners at The International Challenge included Aldi who won Wine Supermarket of the Year, knocking out previous winners Marks and Spencer and Waitrose. Aldi has been a regular in this column for some years as they established their stores across our region. Now they are demonstrating their keen buying ability as they reach up the quality ladder while still keeping prices under control. Aldi’s Exquisite Collection Crémant de Jura (£7.99) has been a consistent medal winner for its crunchy, green apple style of sparkling wine while Aldi’s Clare Valley Riesling 2017 (£6.99) is a textbook example of this lively grape at a bargain price.

Other successes included Domaine de Tourelles red wine from Lebanon, featured in this column just a couple of weeks ago and now the winner of the Great Value Champion Red Wine.  It is normally priced around £12.99 but Hoults in Huddersfield (01484 510700) have it on offer at just £9.99 which makes it even better value.  If you haven’t tried a Lebanese wine before this is the place to start.  Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan it has dark, silky cherry fruit, layered with herbs and liquorice.

Other top wines awarded medals include Tesco’s Finest Premier Cru Champagne (£19) for its elegant, apple and toasted brioche style while Morrisons The Best Languedoc red from Gérard Bertrand (£6) won the Great Value Champion Red wine.

Two special awards from The International Wine Challenge had a particular significance. South African viticulturalist Rosa Kruger who featured in this column in February won the Personality of the Year award which is possibly not the best title for such a self-effacing, hard-working lady.  She has single-handedly rescued and revitalised old vines in South Africa, retaining the DNA of these plants which have learnt to survive for decades in regions where water is limited.  These vines may hold the secret to how plants can adapt to climate change. She now works with a small team of people who have set up an Old Vines validation scheme with the aim of encouraging farmers to hold on to their old vineyards.

The other outstanding award went to Cherie Spriggs, winemaker at English wine producer Nyetimber who won Sparkling Winemaker of the Year.  This is the first time that the award has gone to an English winemaker and she beat several Champagne producers to the award.  It is good to see English wine now being recognised at such as high level.  Her wine, the glorious toasty, complex Nyetimber Classic Cuvée NV is available from Bon Coeur at £32.99.

 

About The Author

Christine Austin

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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