Many Bordeaux chateau keep bees to help with pollination, biodiversity and to encourage an ecological and sustainable future for the vineyards. Chateau Brown in Pessac Leognan keeps a colony of 65,000 bees which they hope to triple this year and released an up-market gift for this Christmas past of a box-set of a bottle of their white wine, vintage 2010, and a jar of honey produced on the property. The honey is produced by the bees from chestnut, holly, pine, acacia and grape blossom.
Bernard Magrez, owner of Chateau Pape Clement in Pessac Leognan, established bee hives in several of his chateau in 2010 throughout Bordeaux, Languedoc Roussillon and Spain. Averaging 35,000 bees per hive Magrez now produces Grand Cru Classé Honey from Chateaux Pape Clement, La Tour Carnet, Fombrauge, Pérenne and Guerry. He started making honey as an experiment to see if each honey is different according to its particular terrior, like wine. Despite problems with Asian Hornets attacking his bees he has been successful and pots of his honey are available from http://www.cave-bernard-magrez.com and you can read about his bee keeping experiences at his blog here.
The ODG of Montagne Saint Emilion and Saint Georges Saint Emilion have launched a collective project ‘Bee-Friendly Vineyards’ and its advertising campaign is a reminder that wine producers also keep bees. (ODG stands for Organisme de Défense et de Gestion and is the organisation responsible for the protection and management of the vineyards). Hubert Boidron, Secretary of the ODG, explained:
“We are farmers before growers. We are sensitive to the environment, including bee mortality. Insecticides are suspected to be the cause, but are not the only one. The lack of food is also highlighted.”
Fifteen members of the ODG have sown flowers that bees love between the rows of vines to help them thrive and the ODG has trademarked “Vine Honey” as a logo/mark that those chateaux taking part in the project can display on their bottles.
Hubert Boidron is a member of the Boidron family who own Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé Chateau Corbin Michotte and several other chateaux amongst the Saint Emilion satellites. Rather appropriately the Second Wine of Corbin Michotte is namedChateau Les Abeilles, which translates as ‘Chateau of the Bees’.
Chateau Haut Bonneauin Montagne Saint Emilion is producing its own honey and Chateau Franc Baudron held a honey and wine tasting where you could also view the live hive behind the safety of plexiglas. Other wine producers such as Chateau Corbin make honey for their own consumption.
I haven’t spotted any Bordeaux chateau making Mead yet but oddly enough some folks say that the origin of the name Medoc could have come from the Celtic tribe Medulli who took their name from Medu, meaning Mead! You never know we could see history repeat itself . . .