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Allô, allô, Bonjour!

This Slurp contains imagery unsuitable for persons of a feeble disposition or those with heart conditions. But those of you with a slightly more rugged constitution should read on, as we will reveal secrets that will add a surprising and delightful twist to your life.

Allez, fear not! À l'attaque!

In this Slurp!
Autumn's kiss

Autumn's kiss


Humming gently, our hundred thousand grapevines are swaying in the breeze on the hills surrounding the chateau. Relieved of their heavy burden, they bathe in the golden glow of the last sunrays of the year. They are not yet aware that their roots are struggling harder and harder to bring up water from the earth.


On the surface there is nothing to see but the juice supply to their foliage is faltering and will soon be cut off completely. When that happens their green leaves will slowly change colour to a decrepit yellow, cemetery brown and geriatric red.




Wine has been made here at Chateau la Tulipe for more than six hundred years. For most of those six centuries that has been done according to the local traditional ways: syrupy thick blood-red wine, aged for aeons in dark mouldy cellars.


When I made this chateau my own, roughly twenty years ago, I broke with those ancient traditions. I wanted to make the best Bordeaux of Bordeaux. Without having even the faintest idea of what that would entail, I worked day and night and invested every last penny in this nebulous fantasy.


With manager Paul and the Australian winemaker David we set sail toward an invisible dot on the horizon. A journey that lasted many years: vineyards had to be completely pulled up, ploughed and replanted with new vines and then we had to wait to see if we might eventually get some usable grapes.


There were endless sleepless nights, tossing and turning with worry about diseases, hail-storms and ruined harvests. Year after year we made a loss but I stubbornly carried on throwing truckloads of money in that bottomless black hole called Chateau.




And we did it. Our wine is widely acclaimed and we are awarded the highest possible accolades every year. We can finally sit back and put our feet up.

ilja klaas

But wine is thicker than water. My son Klaas grew up here at the chateau. He has been picking grapes since he was six years old, climbing across the barrels since he was seven, and when he was ten he drove the Mehari to the bottom of the hill to deliver the picnic lunch to the men and women working in the vineyards. He has imbibed this life of being surrounded by nature, wine and the people who make it. He has slurped it up in his baby bottle.


Even so I was surprised when he, after he completed his degree in London, returned to Bordeaux to live and work at the Chateau. From that day forward everything changed.

We decided to broaden our horizon and went traveling together. We tasted unknown wines from distant lands. Wines that were different to ours. Wines that tasted like thick blueberries and pink raspberries. Wines in which you could hear the call of the wild horses as well as the nibbling of baby bunnies. Wines in which you could see the sunrise and the migration of a flock of Snow Geese. When we came home we decided it was time for a revolution.

Pushing a planet out of orbit

I can tell you; pushing a planet out of its orbit is easier.
A vineyard is a living organism, and is more stubborn than a herd of donkeys. Her responses are as snooty as they are unpredictable. She suffers even the most minute change only with the greatest reluctance, and even then requires inch by inch guidance and argument. So you need patience, boatloads of patience. Because a newly planted vineyard is only willing to relinquish a handful of usable grapes after many, many years.


We bought the neighbour's vineyards, planted new varieties of grapes, installed novel equipment and made the coopers of Saint-Emilion the richest in the area.
And, possibly the most important thing, we managed to make all our vineyards 100% sustainable.

The result?


This year Klaas and I present the first wine we made together: Château la Tulipe 2015. Made with creamy Merlot grapes and mysterious dark Cabernet Sauvignon, it unites the strokeability of a squire with the punching power of a gladiator. Deep ruby evening wine, soft as the belly of a hamster and voluptuous as the bust of an opera singer.

Can only experts appreciate such a wine?

No. Everyone can enjoy this wine.
Take a single sip and you'll be carried along in a whirlwind of emotions; you will taste the love, the shells in the vineyard and the sun in the sea.
Take another sip and you'll feel like a mermaid, swaying in the tropical currents.


After a third sip you'll be as Socrates, pondering life in the shade of the marble collonades of the Parthenon. Witticisms, brilliant one-liners and words of wisdom will roll off your tongue like pearls; women and men will cling to your lips. Begging you for more! More!

And now what?

If I had a choice I would not sell our Château la Tulipe 2015 at all. This wine is so addictively delicious I would cherish each bottle and clasp it to my chest. Every evening my lover and I would wring out one of these delicious bouteilles to the very last drop. Hmmm...


But alas, that goes not. A brother has got to eat and my winemaker's ego needs caressing, so I have magnanimously decided to relinquish the lion's share of our wine treasure.

What will that set me back?

Well, a tricky question indeed. After all you can't put a price on love.
If we had to take the emotional value of all our endeavors into account the price would quickly run into six figures. After all: what does it cost to offer two years of intensive round the clock care to 100.000 grapevines? What is the price of a fifty year-old oak tree from which a skilled cooper has made the barrels in which this wine was laid to rest for eleven months? What is the cost of the harvest of a year that is heralded by experts as the best vintage of the century?

But on the other hand: the average price a British person is prepared to pay for a bottle of wine is £ 6 (yes indeed: £ 6!). So this is where you have got a chance to shine. A chance to show the whole world that you are ready to live a big and rapturous life. That you are not the kind of dimwit who always goes for the cheap crap off the bottom shelf.

Do realize that with the purchase of a bottle of Château la Tulipe 2015 you do not only become the owner of a bottle of great wine, but you also demonstrate that you are someone of international stature. A cross between Benedict Cumberbatch and David Beckham. Or perhaps Lara Croft and Kate Winslet.
So don't hold back! Pull out that wallet with a flourish, put down a tenner and buy a bottle of proper wine. Or even better, buy six bottles, because you'll get a free cat-box.





You can find Château la Tulipe de la Garde Bordeaux Superieur at Sainsbury's supermarkets.
Cliquez ici for more information.

Amazon presents: Surviving France, by the winegrower!



Surviving France : The Merry Adventures of a Dutch Winemaker In France

Twenty years ago, Ilja Gort bought a run down wine chateau near Bordeaux, which, over a period of ten years, he managed to transform into a highly successful winery.

Today his La Tulipe wines are winning numerous awards at international wine fairs and are for sale all over the world.

Surviving France is Gort's humorous account of his first years as a chateau owner and wine maker.
In his unique witty way he details the ins and outs of life at a French wine chateau.
He unearths well kept secrets about wine and reveals what it took to make his dream come true. Sometimes lighthearted, sometimes profound, but always sincere.
A delightful book, and a must-read for every francophile out there.

More than 250.000 copies sold in Holland!

Paperback and ebook (Kindle) now available at Amazon.co.uk

Kindle Edition £ 4.02
Paperback £ 7.46

Cliquez ici!

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