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Discover Southern Europe  |  A French Wine Revolution

We are family Bordeaux is well-known for robust reds – but the sisters of the Vignobles Famille Courselle are just as happy to be known for the region’s dynamic whites, rosés, clairets and crémants, too. Based at Château Thieuley – just 30 kilometres outside Bordeaux – the group also includes Clos Sainte Anne and the exportonly Château Saint Genès, and is run by sisters Sylvie and Marie, who consider themselves as ambassadors for the region’s small, welcoming châteaux. TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON  |  PHOTOS: CHÂTEAU THIEULEY, VIGNOBLES COURSELLE

As the girls grew – playing in the vineyards originally bought by their grandfather André, in 1950 – the business did too. “We had an extraordinary playground,” explains coowner Sylvie Courselle. “We always knew what we wanted to do. It’s in our DNA.” But they also aimed to move beyond Bordeaux reds, and build on Thieuley’s reputation for other options, including high-quality whites. “There are fewer places worldwide where you can produce very good whites,” says Sylvie. “We really believe in our terroir.” That terroir includes Clos Saint Anne, in the Côtes de Bordeaux, whose hotter, gravelly soil produces a spicier, “more feminine” wine.

Château Thieuley itself sits on clay-limestone, and the name ‘Thieuley’ means ‘tiles’ in old French, harking back to a time when a working clay-tile factory sat here. Indeed, the sisters’ modern, open-minded approach is built on strong foundations, and it is this sense of history – and their father

“They’re long gone, but Jean’s grandparents still speak to him at night, reminding him of what to do,” laughs Anna Myers Fernandez, who manages all sales and admin at Château Gabachot outside Bordeaux. “And he’s a real perfectionist. The estate is immaculate — you could eat off the floor in the cellar. Which is amazing, because it means we’re always ready for visitors!”

24  |  Issue 7  |  August 2019 Sylvie and Marie Courselle.

Fantastic wines, family-style

Anna’s husband Jean inherited the property, and the wine-making gene, from both grandfathers. “I always think I fell in love with his wines before falling in love with him,” she says. “And he made both so easy.” The Franco-American couple grows, makes and sells red, white and rosé, which doesn’t allow for much downtime. “Some people think we sit around all day sipping wine, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When we look out of the window, we just see everything that still needs to be done,” says Anna. “We have a permanent team of four, including us, so we are all very good at multitasking.” She also travels the world promoting Château Gabachot. “I’m extremely proud of our wine, and would put it on a table next

Francis’ dedication to keeping the sites welcoming and accessible – that they bring to public tastings at the château. With a certification from sustainable winemaker association Terra Vitis, Château Thieuley’s methods are also eco-friendly, and ensure that production will continue without overbearing industrialisation, and find the perfect mix of history and innovation. “We constantly seek balance,” explains Sylvie. “We are mothers... and managers. That is our quest – to find balance, and be the generation that is showing the dynamic face of Bordeaux.”


Photo: Anna Myers Fernandez/Château Gabachot

to any of the big names from this region. We keep it affordable, and our great quality means we always get returning customers.” The Fernandez family recently welcomed a baby boy, and after the next harvest, Jean will be creating a ‘cuvée’ (blend) just for him. So, would Anna like the kids to work in the wine business? “When you are raised on a vineyard, in an area as rich in winemaking history as Bordeaux, everyone feels a connection to it, but I want them to make their own decision,” she says. But the estate may well have another generation of winemakers waiting in the wings. Facebook: chateaugabachot Instagram: @chateaugabachot

Photo: Petite Souris Photographie

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Discover Southern Europe, Issue 7, August 2019  

The magazine promoting France, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Discover Southern Europe, Issue 7, August 2019  

The magazine promoting France, Spain, Italy and Portugal.