If you’re passionate about wine, there’s a good chance you might have dreamt of making your own at some point. Moving to France or Italy, buying a vineyard, and spending your days making wine in the sun has an obvious appeal – and the good news is that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
The six winemakers featured in this article are all over 50s who decided to change careers and start working in the wine industry. Since then, they’ve never looked back…
So whether you dream of making your own wine one day, or you just love drinking it and are keen to discover delicious new bottles, this article might be the inspiration you need!
Here are six delicious wines created by entrepreneurs over 50 – and for a limited period, Rest Less members can get £20 off a mixed case of these wines from Cambridge Wine Merchants by entering code RestLess6.
1. Caryl and Jan Panman
High in the foothills of France’s snow-capped Pyrenees mountains range, you’ll find Château Rives-Blanques. This award-winning estate is run by the Panman family and produces hand-crafted white and sparkling wines imported by Cambridge Wine Merchants.
Since launching, the Panmans’ wines have received rave reviews. The website of top wine critic Jancis Robinson awarded their Odyssée Chardonnay its best score for a Southern French White (18/20), claiming that “this wine gets better every year. It has become more and more sculpted every year, but never sacrifices structure.” Jancis Robinson herself is also a fan, writing that “the Panman family goes from strength to strength”. The esteemed Guide Hachette des Vins was full of praise too, stating “this estate continues to astonish us”.
Based on this praise, it may seem like the Panmans have been making wine for generations, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Irish-Dutch couple Caryl and Jan Panman lived and worked in many countries before they decided to take the plunge and set up shop in the beautiful Limoux area.
Formerly a teacher, Jan’s most important certification is now his winemaking diploma, and since 2017, he’s been solely responsible for growing and making all the wines at Château Rives-Blanques.
The Panmans’ passion for wine is clearly contagious, and today the winemaking is a family affair: Caryl and Jan’s daughter Xaxa and her husband Ian manage and market the Château Rives-Blanques – with a bit of help from Bacchus the dog!
If you like the idea of sipping on a wine that features notes of quince and pickled lemon, cracked coriander and black pepper, and apples and cream, you can buy the award-winning Odyssée Chardonnay from Cambridge Wine Merchants. It delivers everything a top White Burgundy does, at a fraction of the price.
2. Guy Vanlancker
Jan Panman wasn’t the only former school teacher to make his winemaking dreams a reality. Belgian Guy Vanlancker, another former teacher, also made a total career change after visiting Minervois, France, and falling in love with both the scenery and the wine.
Initially, Guy started as a wine worker on the beautiful vineyard of La Livinière, before becoming the manager and winemaker of Château Laville Bertrou, and then of Domaine Cantaussel. In 2000 Guy started his own estate, Domaine Combe Blanche, and since then he’s been making some of the finest wine in this celebrated region.
Guy’s most popular wine is his Tempranillo, where the terroir of his beautiful L’Infer vineyard in Minervois can be tasted. With a scent of wild herbs, rosemary and fennel, and notes of black and red fruits like blackberry, damson, myrtle and loganberry, this is a wine that’s full-bodied and subtly savoury. To try this generously proportioned Dom. Combe Blanche Calamiac Terroir Tempranillo 2017, head over to Cambridge Wine Merchants’ website.
3. Simon Coulshaw
If you’re a fan of pure, unfettered wines that have seen minimal intervention, you might want to familiarise yourself with the wines of Brit, Simon Coulshaw.
Together with his Catalan wife Monica, Simon runs Domaine des Trinités: an artisanal winery in the village of Roquessels, on the famous hills of Faugères, Southern France.
Though Simon always had a love for wine, he started a career in IT, working in Africa and the Middle East setting up AT&T’s operations. But wine was always on his mind, and once he had the means, he decided he would buy a vineyard in France.
Finding the right property wasn’t easy, however – and Simon and Monica viewed over 100 vineyards before they found Domaine des Trinites! Within 10 minutes they knew it was the right site to make their wine making dreams a reality.
Today, Domaine des Trinites is known for producing wines that deliver purity, elegance and authenticity. And his celebrated Roussanne is another wine that’s received glowing reviews from Jancis Robinson: “Smells of mimosa and cold pebbles. So tight it’s as if the fruit has been hot-waxed onto the palate. Wild, wild fruit and flowers, all hedgerows and fields. So much texture it’s like licking chalk-dusted rose petals. Fascinating wine, that changes as you sit with it, like sunset dropped into a kaleidoscope, like light on water.”
If you’d like to try Simon’s exceptional Dom. des Trinités l’Imaginaire Roussanne 2019, it’s available to buy on Cambridge Wine Merchants’ website.
4. Tim Ford
Fellow Brit, Tim Ford, was introduced to the joys of winemaking from an early age.
His father owned a small vineyard in Southeast England, and though Tim went on to spend more than two decades in various African countries running a successful horticultural business, his passion for wine would never leave him.
After returning to England in 2002, he joined forces with South African Anthony Record and decided to launch a wine business in France.
In 2004, after pairing up with local winemaker Vincent Chansault, the three men launched Domaine Gayda. In the years since then, this exceptional winery has breathed new life into a relatively sleepy part of Languedoc Roussillon, and their wine is as unique as it is delicious.
One of Tim’s most exciting wines is called En Passant, which is inspired by ‘The Passenger’ – the classic rock anthem by Iggy Pop. The restless nature of the song is reflected in the wine’s production as well as its labelling. Each year a different vineyard, terroir, and grape variety is used to make the wine, and the constantly changing, storyboard-like label further highlights its transient character.
But as for the wine itself, there’s nothing fleeting about the tasting experience: it’s a Muscat and Roussanne blend, a light, clean white with notes of fresh apricot and peach, with floral undertones and a honeyed nose. The character of the wine may be ephemeral, but the lovely taste will stay with you a long time. To try the Dom. Gayda En Passant Blanc 2020 IGP Pays d’Oc, head over to Cambridge Wine Merchants.
5. Jonathan Hesford and Rachel Treloar
Some major career changes are the result of going through a painful life experience or trauma, and Jonathan and Rachel’s story is one such example of that.
On September 11th 2001, the couple were working in New York City and living within 500 metres of the World Trade Center. The devastating events of that day caused Jonathan and Rachel to rethink their life and what they wanted from it, and this was the catalyst for them to begin their new life in France.
Today, after years of studying and making wine, Jonathan and Rachel now own a 10-hectare wine estate, Domaine Treloar, near the Spanish border. To them, winemaking is a labour of love, and the couple does all the work in the vineyards and winery themselves.
Jancis Robinson regards their wine as the best in the famous Roussillon region, with eight of Domaine Treloar’s wines currently ranking in her top 15. Plus, in 2013 Domaine Treloar was given the honour of the best Roussillon producer by La Revue du Vin de France; France’s most esteemed wine magazine.
Their ‘Tahi’ wine is the one that receives most praise, and this Syrah blend is packed with complexity, depth, and texture. In the words of Jancis Robinson, it’s “a wine that is silent, but howls with emotion; a wine that is raw and edgy, but every link, line, circle, and piece, flows with exquisite grace and shape. A wine that has stories etched into every mouthful.” At eight years of age it is fully ready to enjoy at its best.
With notes of toasty oak and roast coffee, and scents of perfectly balanced spiced fruit, this is a fresh yet complex wine that’s worthy of all the praise. To try the Dom. Treloar Tahi 2013 Cotes du Roussillon, head over to Cambridge Wine Merchants.
6. Roger Gabb
Roger Gabb has been a big name in the wine business for many years now. Back in the 1980s, Roger founded Western Wines – a wine distribution company founded from Roger’s kitchen in Shropshire, that reached its heyday in the early 2000s, when one in every 13 bottles of wine bought in this country was sold via Western Wines. But, despite the staggering success of Western Wines, Roger’s passion for wine wasn’t sated.
In 1996, Roger bought the Journey’s End estate near Stellenbosch in South Africa, and while his son Rollo now runs this business, Roger is the chairman, and proudly makes exceptional South African wine that’s sold all across the globe. Roger is also a board member of MGM Mondo del Vino (he’s the ‘G’ in MGM), which is one of the very best wine companies in Italy.
Roger’s wine is an excellent 2017 Barolo, which has a full aroma and a beautiful finish. It’s perfectly balanced, boasting resolved tannins without the fruit being dried out, and has deliciously complex aromas of oak, rose, strawberries and leather on the nose. If you’d like to try the exceptional Barolo Antica Casa DOCG 2017 Ricossa, it’s available to buy on Cambridge Wine Merchants’ website.
If you love discovering delicious new wines, we hope this article has given you a few ideas – and if you’ve always dreamed of making your own wine, we hope it’s showed you that it’s never too late to follow your dreams!
Cambridge Wine Merchants are the main importers to the UK for these six wine entrepreneurs. And while the normal price for a case of the six wines above is £101.94, they’re currently offering Rest Less members an exclusive £20 off – at a price of £81.94 (while stocks last). Just visit Cambridge Wine Merchants’ website and apply the discount code RestLess6 at checkout.
Alternatively, you might want to consider attending our next wine tasting event.