Winemakers make mark by removing cork with a shoe

  • Moving experience: Stephen and Jeany Cronk sold their home in London in 2008 and moved to Provence with their three young children to pursue their dream of making fine wine (Photograph submitted)

    Moving experience: Stephen and Jeany Cronk sold their home in London in 2008 and moved to Provence with their three young children to pursue their dream of making fine wine (Photograph submitted)

This month, it seems as if we have had more visits from winery owners and marketing people than usual. We always learn something from them and they make my goal of “learning something new every day” a little easier.

The first to arrive was Jeff Cairney, who is based in the San Francisco office of the Delegat family.

Much to the benefit of Bermuda, he was accompanied by 60 fellow workers who had won a corporate sales contest and their reward was to stay at one of our fine properties for a few days.

I knew that the wine brand that this New Zealand family owns outsold any other from their country here, but it was news to me that on a worldwide basis it was also in a strong number one position. Jeff made sure that his group knew that Bermuda was the top per capita consumer of their Oyster Bay wines anywhere.

We carry their merlot, chardonnay, pinot noir, rosé, bubbly and, of course, their top-selling 2018 sauvignon blanc that is straw green in colour with brilliant clarity, zesty and aromatic with lots of lively fruit characters. A concentration of assertive passion fruit and tropical fruit flavours follow with an abundant bouquet. It is a wine that is always crisp, elegant and refreshing and their winemaker’s job to keep it consistently ahead of the pack must really be a challenge — but he does it.

Next came Jérome Richard who represents Gérard Bertrand wines in the Caribbean and Bermuda; I learnt enough new facts to last a few days. While discussing their popular Gérard Bertrand Gris Blanc Pays d’Oc 2018 rosé, Jérome told us that it was made from white grenache and I confess to finding out from him that there are white, red and black versions of this grape.

The palest of salmon pinks, this is a wonderfully pure, fresh-flavoured wine, with vibrant fruit aromatics. The fruity characters are echoed on the palate, which has a lovely minerality and a zesty finish. We do very well with it. $20.30.

I knew the story of how Gérard Bertrand had spotted a bottle that won a design contest for a young participant and he obtained their permission to use it for his Côte des Roses package. The eye-catching base looks like a blossoming rose and the unique glass stopper is a favourite of mine.

Jérome rather shocked me by informing us that this grenache, syrah, cinsault blend is now the most asked for French rosé, in volume, in the USA. We have the 2018 for $24.50. I say “in volume” as another of ours still wins in overall dollars.

This past Friday, if you had spotted me enjoying pizza in the lobby restaurant of a large hilltop hotel, you would probably not have known that the gentleman buying lunch has the distinction of having, at one hundred million hits and growing, the most watched wine-related internet video on our planet. I knew that it was attention-getting but 100,000,000 times?

Stephen Cronk told me how he, his wife, Jeany, and three young children, sold their London home in 2008 and moved to Provence to pursue their dream of making fine wine. They did not even speak French. In an area with hundreds of producers, with limited funds for promotion — and the unlimited ones of close winery owners like Brad Pitt and Angela Jolie — they had to think of something to attract attention. A fifty-second video of Stephen removing the cork from a bottle of wine with his shoe did the job!

The reason that we originally contacted Stephen was that after carefully studying rosé wine reviews it became clear that one producer was consistently placing in the top few and it was only later that I heard of the attention-getting “shoe trick”.

My enthusiasm for the three rosé wines from Mirabeau has only notched up more, as they have just purchased a wonderful Provence estate and vineyard from folks here that, many years ago, were our next-door neighbours in Southampton. I feel there is a real Bermuda connection now.

We have just received a shipment from Mirabeau and all three are from the 2018 vintage. An absolute celebratory wine for the approaching season is the Mirabeau La Folie sparkling rosé that is produced by the Charmat Method used for the ever-popular prosecco. La Folie is a beautiful ballet slipper pink, with a delicate sparkle and a nose of small red berry fruits, fresh pink grapefruit notes and a hint of exotic pineapple. On the palette, wild strawberry and raspberry flavours, balanced by citrus, carry the beautiful signature of rosé wines from the South of France. La Folie is the perfect aperitif, as well as a delightful accompaniment to many desserts and a brilliant wine for all happy occasions. $23.50.

And, by the way, I knew that the French consumed more rosé than white, but Stephen says that the ratio is now two to one!

You would not go wrong in selecting our Mirabeau Côtes de Provence Pure 2018 rosé, either at Thanksgiving or Christmas, as this grenache and syrah blend, with its ethereal pale pink colour, would complement the big bird admirably. $25.45.

By the way, Stephen loved our island and this was his first trip here. Let’s love Mirabeau wines and give him a good reason to come back!

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit

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Published Nov 1, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 31, 2019 at 9:42 pm)

Winemakers make mark by removing cork with a shoe

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