Nicola Allison is Welsh born and bred, but moved to New Zealand in 1989. Nicola is a GP by training and she practiced in Auckland, New Zealand before moving to France to run her parents winery, Château du Seuil.
In 2001, Nicola came back to Europe with a Kiwi husband (2 kids, 1 dog and lots of suitcases) to take over the family winery Château du Seuil in the Graves area of Bordeaux. Nicola is a Doctor by training, but also studied winemaking in Hawkes bay New Zealand for two years, while her husband, Sean, studied viticulture.
Château du Seuil
In 1988, Welsh couple Bob and Sue Watts acquired the Château du Seuil winery. They renovated the Château, built a modern winery and re-established many of the old vineyards.
Later on, Bob and Sue’s daughter, Nicola and her husband Sean Allison took over the winery and they are now involved in every aspect of making their wines.
The transition was easier for Nicola, as she already spoke French and had spent a lot of time in France with her French god parents as a child, but for Sean and the children who spoke Kiwi and not a word of French, it was tough! However, they survived the first year of French bureaucracy, and 10 years later they’ve managed to acquire another kid, lost a dog, gained a cat and another 12 hectares of vines!
The estate of Château du Seuil encompasses a total of 25 hectares of vines, 65% of which are planted in red varieties and 35% in white varieties. There are 15 hectares in the Graves appellation and 10 hectares in the Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux appellation.
What Nicola says:
“We sell direct, and do not work with negociants, so when Virgin Wines need more wine, they call me! As a result a very important part of our job is to travel to visit Virgin Wines and support them in selling our wines. Over the last couple of years we have been regulars at the Virgin Wines Tastings and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at them. It’s always great to catch up with the Virgin Wines team, but it’s also fantastic to meet the people who are buying my wines. I’ve also really enjoyed having some of the Virgin Wines wine advisors to stay here in France, so that they could learn more about our wine.” Nicola Allison
What Andrew says:
“Nicola is a great tonic to the old-school of French winemaking, showing absolutely no respect for the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ attitude that pervades France’s more illustrious wine regions. This is precisely why the wines of Chateau de Seuil taste so refreshingly honest and darn good. If you are very exacting you’ll see a little Kiwi in every bottle, though we’re not so sure about Wales. She advocates technology only where it allows the natural wine to express itself better, rather than any kind of manipulation that this might otherwise allow. In a region that either thrives at the top end through endless hype or languishes close to bankrupcy at the mucky end, Chateau de Seuil stands as a beacon of very well thought out Bordeaux, embracing the latest technology to make the wine that should represent Graves and will do from here on in. And Nicola stands proud at the gates to this winery.” Andrew Baker
Did You Know?
- The average vine age across the whole estate is approximately 30 years!