Discovering Chateau des Trois Tours

The Chateau des Trois Tours lies in Caumont near Sauveterre de Guyenne in the Entre Deux Mers and is an ancient fortified estate with a fascinating history. It was once the property of Jeanne d’Albret (1528 – 1572), Queen of Navarre. Formerly known as Château Roboam, named for a Knight who joined the Crusades, the castle has retained three of the original four towers, and part of the moat.

The House of Albret was one of the most powerful feudal families in medieval France. The Lords of Albret became Kings of Navarre and Jeanne d’Albret was the mother of Henry IV, King of France. Jeanne d’Albret stayed at Chateau des Trois Tours several times with her son, the King.

Not only was the House of Albret rulers of Navarre and Bearn but they had control over much of Gascony and Guyenne (the ancient name for Bordeaux). Jeanne was a spirited and intelligent woman who knew her own mind (she refused to marry her first husband, William Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg.

He was brother to Anne of Cleves who married our King Henry VIII) and had to be carried bodily to the altar, protesting all the way. The marriage was annulled four years later on the grounds that it had not been consummated and Jeanne married Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme.

Jeanne was the acknowledged spiritual and political leader of the French Huguenot movement (French Protestants) and a key figure in the French Wars of Religion.

In the first year of her reign as Queen Regnant of Navarre Jeanne declared Calvinism the official religion of her kingdom after publicly embracing the teachings of John Calvin on Christmas Day 1560.

This conversion made her the highest-ranking Protestant in France. She was ahead of her times and commissioned the translation of the New Testament into Basque and Béarnese for the benefit of her subjects.

Today the château is run by the Lumeau family who have been wine makers for 4 generations, establishing Vignobles Lumeau in 1840.Chateau Des Trois Tours 2009 (£9.05) has good ageing qualities but can be drunk young.

It has an intense bouquet of lush red fruits and a very fine long liquorice finish. The wine is a deep dark garnet colour with well balanced tannins. A supple and complex wine – we recommend you decant 2 hours before serving.

The wine is ideal with beef, venison, game pies, duck, beef wellington and feathered game such as pheasant, guinea fowl and partridge. It’s also great with strong hard cheeses. Try it with the recipe below!

Pheasant With Pancetta

4 pheasant breasts
small bunch of sage
3 ½ oz sliced smoked pancetta
1 oz butter
8 shallots, halved
2 tbsp plain flour
¼ pint dry cider
¼ pint chicken stock
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 apple, cored and sliced
can of whole peeled chestnuts, drained
salt and pepper

Set the Slow Cooker to Low. Season the pheasant breasts with salt and pepper. Top each breast with a few sage leaves and then wrap in pancetta until covered. You can tie them with string to keep the pancetta in place if necessary.

Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry the shallots until browned. Stir in the flour and then add the cider, stock and mustard. Add the apple and chestnuts and bring to the boil.

Arrange the pheasant breasts in the Slow Cooker and pour the hot cider mixture over the top. Cover with the lid and cook on Low for 2 ½ – 3 hours until the birds are tender.

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