It had been a few years since my last visit to Château la Canorgue, one of the most beautifully located wineries that we have the pleasure to work with, so I was somewhat bemused by several of the signs that I met as I wended my way to the cellar door - ‘Beware snakes’, ‘No tours of the Chateau’ and ‘Private Property’. This apparently hostile reception was quickly explained to me by the charming Nathalie Margan, the daughter of the house and joint winemaker with her father, Jean-Pierre.
Nathalie explained that in 2005 the house had been the primary setting for the Ridley Scott / Russell Crowe / Albert Finney film ‘A Good Year’ when a cast of some 300 had been billeted around the Montagne de Luberon from August to March. No doubt this had been a fillip to the local B&B trade but, since the film’s release, there has been a daily stream of visitors who expressed zero interest in the excellent wines of the estate, but asked to see the terrace and swimming pool where their heroes had performed. During evenings or at weekends when gates are closed and doors locked, such types are undeterred and the Margans have endured several family meals and barbeques being disturbed by camera-toting tourists scaling walls and appearing through hedges to take snaps.
This is a shame, not least, because there is far more of interest in the property than its smattering of stardust and stunning backdrop. There has been a property on this site since Roman times when it was identified as having an excellent source of natural spring water. The water requirements of the house and entire winery come from a system of subterranean aquifers fed by rain and snowfalls, it is not any man-made water system. This is one reason why Jean-Pierre identified its potential to pioneer organic wine when he re-planted the vines in the seventies. The winery itself is house in a former silk factory, testament to the historic trade of the region and its mulberry trees, home of the silk worm.
It really is a wonderful region to visit, especially in the Summer months. We visited nearby Bonnieux on market day (Friday) and enjoyed an excellent lunch in the shaded ‘Le Fournil’ restaurant which is run by friends of the Margans and, unsurprisingly, has a comprehensive selection of their wines on the list.
Any the film itself? Well summed up by Variety magazine:
‘A light rosé from Ridley Scott compared to the hefty cabernets he usually turns out.’