When we IMG_3821wanted to make a Rosé, I ran a competition on Twitter to come up with an appropriate name. I wanted something different, light and fruity but equally at home with food like charcuterie. The winning name was Jolie or pretty (feminine) in French. We all felt that this was the most appropriate name for a wine with such delicate colour.


Tasting Notes:  With aromas of rhubarb and vanilla, light savoury and surprisingly long finish



To bottle or to box

I’ve recently had the opportunity to experiment with packaging my wine in box format.

imageWhen this was first suggested to me my reaction was amusingly shocked. ‘My wine is too good for that’ was what I’m sure I thought although didn’t say. However, the suggestion came from 2 highly reputable London clients and the first, Hamish Anderson, the food and drinks buyer from the Tate was convincingly persusive.

30% less transport and packaging cost and less breakages in transport. That’s quite an argument. But what about quality? Well the wine can keep for 10 days once opened and the shelf life is at least a year according to the tests that Anderson had carried out. He had also compared wine in boxes stored in cellar conditions with that stored in a hot restaurant.

But what about the perception? This is indeed the issue. There is a lot of bad wine out there in larger box format and there is a perception that anything in a box is cheap. So putting a decent wine in a box needed careful thought about packaging and presentation.

we came up with the idea of using the style of an IPhone box: more rigid and sleeker than a traditional box,  and the extra space available in the packaging allowed us to feature some high quality art reproduction. A fantastic medium to combine 2 of my loves: wine and art. I just need to now work out how to integrate the 3rd passion: music.

The Bordealise have thought that I’m mad to do this and resistance has been typically robust at any new idea. However, during bottling I was surrounded by a group of more traditional makers all looking and feeling the result with almost heart warming appreciation. “Maybe you have something here Mark”

The result of our labors is now out there so it is now up to the clients and customers to decide whether or not this is an acceptable way of packaging a decent Bordeaux red. Im quietly confident that the UK public will be interested and responsive to buying wine in this format. Certainly, initial corporate customers are immediately persuaded with the cost savings and environmental argument.

Having now gone through the experience, I am keen to develop this further. I would not use this format for every wine; particularly wines that are destined to mature and age. The traditional bottle (preferable magnum) is still the best format for this. However, for drinking wines I’m impressed.


Grand Vin

Every vineyard has a signature wine and this takes time to establish, understand and recognize.IMG_0429 Seasons vary and grape harvests will change. Each year we need to respond to the climate in a different way. I think that its taken the full 9 years Ive been there to really understand this.

Our Grand Vin is our signature blend. Made from our 4 grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Each year we ferment the varietals separately and then after final fermentation around February onwards we are tasting and re-tasting the resulting wine in order to decide how to blend and condition the wines from that year to make the best possible expression of Civrac that we can.

Each year will be subtly different in blend and balance but the final result will be identified by our signature. For me this is becoming a delicate smokey plummy note from the Merlot that grows so well in our plots 3 and 4. or the best southerly slope for those of you that have not visited.

Tasting Notes: Complex nose comprising of plumby Merlot, Juicy Cabernet and spicey Malbec. smokey notes and mocca mid pallet. Long oak finish. 13-14%.

Mark Hellyar

Cornishman in Bordeaux

I’m a long way from home and in a business way out of my comfort zone. However, it’s an enormous privilege and to many people, a dream career. I’m a winemaker and chateau owner in Bordeaux. 2012-10-23 09.44.55

i bought Chateau Civrac in 2006 after a career in technology and working coincidentally in many wine making regions of the world. It may have been a midlife crisis or it may have been an attempt to be involved in something more real: more satisfying in life. Maybe it was just an attempt to do something that would leave a mark.

Chateau Civrac was a run down 18th century imagechateau on the right bank of Bordeaux. Surrounded by 25 acres of vineyards in the less fashionable appellation of Cotes de Bourg. It’s a beautiful part of Bordeaux. Not the flat low lands of the Medoc. Cotes de Bourg is a hilly, Roman influenced, almost Tuscan looking region. Civrac lies 5 minutes from Bourg in the surrounding rolling hills.

2012-10-04 11.29.31Our aim was to make a contemporary wine here. Soft and fruity and not like the traditional robust reds that the region was more well known for. Our aim was also to produce for an international market, not a traditional domestic one. All this has meant a complete rethinking of the way in which we make wine and the way in which we present it.

The Cotes de Bourg is also an interesting place to make wine as it has the highest percentage of Malbec plantations in Bordeaux. Malbec, although planted by the Romans, normally only used in small amounts, is a spicy and beautiful colored grape, capable of making wines with rich color and spice and ideal for modern fusion cuisine.

We make our wine in a very natural way. that means winemaking by hand, tending the vines by hand and only using machinery and treatments when necessary. This of course makes production costs higher but it shows in the taste. When you come and visit us, our vineyard is not manicured to oblivion. its a natural place and we hope that the wines we make, whilst contemporary, taste like where they come from:  they are free from additives and chemicals that other mass produced wines contain. just grape juice and yeast. simple and natural.

IMG_06062014-04-04 10.01.46

Im an outsider in Bordeaux but that sometimes helps. Bordeaux is such a traditional place that if you have been brought up there then you can be constrained by that tradition. Being an outsider, and a Cornishman at that frees you from that constraint and being Cornish can actually make you something of the agent provocateur.

Mark Hellyar Chateau Civrac –

Posh Bag in Box

Chateau Civrac has produced in conjunction with Tate the first ‘posh bag in box’ wine. the box imagecombines an easy drinking red Bordeaux wine with ultra contemporary packaging and minimalist modern art.

Tate restaurants are to start selling a specially blended Bordeaux red in all of their restaurants. The wine has been specially selected and blended by Tate wine buyer and writer, Hamish Anderson working closely with Mark Hellyar of Chateau Civrac.

The ‘posh bag,in box’ has been designed to challenge some of the preconceptions against this type of packaging. Tate are keen to assert their environmental credentials. There is a 30% weight saving and therefore associated transport cost savings

Hellyar says. “We’ve been making a contemporary Merlot called Element for four years. I’d been looking at the BiB format for some time but wasn’t sure about people’s perception of it. When the opportunity to work with Hamish arose, it was the perfect time for me to combine a contemporary Cabernet/Merlot blend with my love of art.”

Hellyar chose the name “Indigo” for the wine in a nod to his childhood, which was spent on the Cornish coast. “I like to choose unusual names for my wines and I grew up next to the sea so Indigo seemed a perfect fit. Cabernet has a fantastic blue bloom on it, so it’s also a nod to that.”

Hellyar enlisted the help of his Padstow-based artist friend David Pearce to design the artwork on the box, which depicts bobbing boats in a harbour. David Pearce is self-taught and widely exhibited internationally, Pearce’s primitive paintings combine a spontaneity of composition with an exciting use of colour.

“I decided to package the wine in a modern white box inspired by the way Apple presents its products. I love Pearce’s simple, evocative style that resonates with my own ambitions for my wine. The work is open to interpretation, which empowers the viewer in the same way wine empowers the taster. initially my ideas have been met with scepticism in Bordeaux but I am convinced that the UK consumer will be responsive to this.” says Hellyar.

Indigo is packaged in a three-litre box, the 12% abv Indigo will go on sale by the glass at the Tate group’s restaurants next week and will also be on sale via Cornwall-based distributor Wadebridge Wines. RRP £30.

Chateau Civrac is a contemporary Bordeaux boutique wine producer. Owned by Cornishman Mark Hellyar his wines are hand made in small quantities, are fruit driven with softer tannins and are made with respect for nature.  +441392 248076

Hamish Anderson is an author, a feature writer and wine and food buyer for Tate.

David Pearce is an artist who’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions around the world including “Acidental genius” Milwaukee Art Museum, The London Art Fair and the Outsider Art Fair, New York.

Wild White

Wild white is the name we have chosen for our modern Sauvignon Blanc, Made from 100% IMG_3818Sauvignon and grown in the Cote de Duras, this wine is soft and fruity. With aromas of grapefruit and peach and a subtle vanilla finish.

Many people have asked me about the name so here is the explanation: Sauvignon is derived from the French word ‘sauvage’  or ‘wild’ and Blanc means white. So together they become Wild white. I love the name because it conjures up images of the wild Cornwall coast and my time surfing there.

This wine is an ideal partner to fresh shellfish, especially crab but equally at home with most fish and vegetable dishes. Or just with friends.

by Mark

Christmas in Cornwall

The waves crash onto the beachchristmasBeach and the lights from the Christmas trees twinkle on the wet foam edged sand like tiny dancing diamonds  I pull my hood around and dig my hands deep into my pockets as the icy air catches my breath. The green leafed garland lifts and bumps gently against the old oak door as the wind whistles through it.

I turn towards the beach and pick my way along the  uneven footpath. The last of the days sunlight streaks the sky turning it purple and orange. On the soft sand my wellies make deep footprints – soon washed over by the sparkling spume. And my face, cold from the biting wind, is sprayed with salted droplets blown up from the churning waves.

The brisk wind makes me pick up the pace. I walk determinedly along the cliff path, the light fading with every step, over the slate stiles walking west into the rapidly dropping last rays of winter sunshine.


Above me I see the first glimpse of the Christmas Eve moon. The bright crescent only visible for seconds before another dark cloud skuds infront of it obscuring it’s watery light. Standing still with my back to the wind I see the first early stars. But they too disappear as quickly as they appeared. The only constant lights are the glittering trees in the windows of the houses looking out onto the Atlantic. The sea is a deep dark blue. There are no lights on the horizon tonight,  no ships  navigating the rugged north Cornish coast just the life saving beam from The Trevose Head lighthouse sweeping fleetingly across the blackness. The darkness is intense, the wind chilling and having reached the highest point I turn back again. Now the wind is at my back almost pushing me home. It’s dark, but having been a part of the night as it fell,  I don’t notice it and with my hands still deep in my pockets I march back.

As I push open the door I feel enveloped by the smell of the warmth. I hear the fire crackling and at that moment the cork being eased out of a wine bottle. “I’m home” I shout.9f0dscd

And Christmas in Cornwall has begun.

From Sarah