by Ian Blackshaw
About 10 kilometres north of Hesdin in the sleepy historical village of Fressin, there is a veritable modern Aladdin’s cave. Stocked with French wine treasures: well worth visiting and buying.
It rejoices under the name of ‘Les Caves du Vieux Chai’. A ‘Chai’ in this context is a depot for the storage of wine and this ‘Chai’ boasts 100,000 bottles of wine. All are personally selected from vineyards throughout France and the proprietors boast that the ‘Chai’ has been doing so for a century!
They have a very fine selection of French wines to suit every taste and every purse, including carton red, white and rose wine, and twice a year hold a wine fair (‘salon du vin’) for three days, at which you can taste their wines under the expert and watchful eye of knowledgeable sommeliers and growers (viticulteurs).
They also claim that their prices are very competitive with those of other wine outlets offering a similar range of quality wines. And they deliver bulk orders free of charge within the Departments of the Pas de Calais, Du Nord and La Somme.
In due course, they will be offering examples of the 2009 vintage, which promises, by all accounts, to be “exceptionnelle”! Well worth drinking some bottles and keeping the rest!
They have just set up their own website – sections of which are still under construction – at www.caves-du-vieux-cahi.com. Eventually, you will be able to make a virtual tour of their establishment and order on line. Be that as it may, there can be no real substitute for a real-time visit in person!
You can taste a number of their wines at several local restaurants, including ‘Le Secret Garden’ in Fressin – opposite the ‘Chai’ – and at ‘Le Fournil’ in Coupelle Vieille, including the proprietor’s own claret (a Bordeaux Superieur), Chateau La Bruyere, the 2005 vintage of which is very good indeed!
They also offer a select range of whisky and eaux de vie, including the regional gin (genievre) from Houlle – not for the faint-hearted!
They are open from Monday to Saturday from 9 – 12 30 and 14 – 18 30 and accept a number of credit cards for payment.
Les Caves du Vieux Chai, 20 Grand rue, 62140 Fressin Tel: 03 21 90 61 43