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A Sparkling Wine Conversation with Yannick Loué at Le Vignoble

le vignoble

English Wine Week Event at le Vignoble, Sam Lindo from Camel Valley talking ©Alex Allwood

The Southwest’s Favourite Sparkling Wine and Champagne Venue – Le Vignoble, Plymouth

Stop for a moment and still your sparkling mind: can you recall where you were when you first tasted Bollinger RD? Or where you tasted your first Cristal? What about when you first discovered Nyetimber? Chances are that it was probably a different place each time. For me, all these memories come together since I first tasted all of them in the Southwest’s (arguably the country’s) most comprehensive wine lounge for Fizz in all its forms – Le Vignoble, in Plymouth’s Royal William Yard.

The Story behind Le Vignoble

Set in the historic surroundings of an old naval victualling yard, this elegant venue and wine shop is the culmination of a life’s dream for its charming French propriétaire, Yannick Loué. Around fifteen years ago, this aspiration was a seedling germinated while Yannick was sitting drinking coffee in a bar on the marina in Bonifacio, Corsica. While people-watching he noticed the privileged yacht-owners buying champagne to take back on board their luxury vessels, and the idea for selling champagne and fine wine was born.

Yannick assesses some English Sparkling Wine ©Alex Allwood


Talking English Sparkling with Yannick and Duncan Schwab from Sharpham Wines ©Alex Allwood

While working in hospitality the UK in the interim, Yannick noticed that there were very few specialised  independent wineshops, but a lot of chains. He found that wine knowledge in general here was poor. Most people seemed to depend on a sommelier, not really understanding what they liked themselves. He wanted Le Vignoble to be somewhere that people could explore and learn about wine. With his background in hospitality he was never daunted by the long hours necessary in setting up and running an independent hybrid wine shop and lounge. The result is an elegant yet welcoming establishment which has become very popular in the area, and has enabled a growing appreciation of fine wine and bubbly in the South West.


Although initially Yannick was keen to stock Champagne from independent Growers, it soon became apparent that, in the Southwest at least, consumers liked the big brand names, which Le Vignoble stocks in abundance. A fine selection from houses such as Krug, Billecart-Salmon, Dom Perignon, Bollinger, Ruinart and Louis Roederer is available, in addition to their latest offering, a fine grower Champagne from Larnaudie-Hirault, imported directly from the producer to offer the best possible price to their loyal clientele; Le Vignoble has exclusivity for supplying Larnaudie-Hirault in the Southwest.


English Sparkling Wine

champagne & sparkling wine

English Sparkling Wine

Aside from Champagne, Yannick is a champion of English Sparkling Wine, particularly from vineyards in the Southwest, and every year during English Wine Week hosts a showcase tasting with a number of winemakers. Always a sell-out event, Le Vignoble’s clients look forward to this fantastic and fun event from one year to the next. English wineries featured at Le Vignoble include Camel Valley, Furleigh Estate, Polgoon, Sharpham Estate, Knightor Winery, and, of course, Nyetimber. It is really satisfying to see English Sparkling Wine so well-represented here. So many wine bars and restaurants throughout the UK fail to support our home-grown wine industry, which is disappointing, of course, but I think they also miss out because the fine wine consumer today expects to see our excellent English Sparkling on the menu. I have always thought Yannick well ahead of the game in this regard.

english sparkling

Yannick with Sam from Camel Valley, Adrian and David from Knightor, Duncan from Sharpham, Mark from Chateau Civrac ©Alex Allwood

From the rest of the world, you can find Prosecco, of course, and also Sparkling Wine from the New World – USA, Australia, Brazil and even Canada!

Aside from the English Wine Week showcase event, Le Vignoble usually hosts 2 or three other Champagne or Sparkling Wine events per year, always sold out. There is also a good selection of fizz by the glass, in addition to the wide range by the bottle, with usually at least 4 options available – usually a Prosecco or New World Sparkling, two local Sparkling and one Champagne. You can see why I like to pop in on a regular basis for light sparkling refreshment!!

The Future Of Champagne & Sparkling Wine

I talked to Yannick about what the future holds for Champagne and Sparkling Wine. He believes that Champagne Houses may have become complacent having had it too easy for too long, and that there is a serious risk of Champagne being surpassed by English Sparkling in the future, especially in the UK market. This risk is accentuated now with the weak pound, an effect of the EU Referendum and looming Brexit. Certainly Yannick finds that English Sparkling Wine is more popular already with the clients of Le Vignoble, that local people really buy into local producers.

With regard to other Sparkling Wine from around the world, Yannick thinks that the most under-rated is probably Tasmania – this is a region we must watch out for in the future.

Favourite Champagne Moment

His favourite way to enjoy Champagne or Sparkling Wine – At the beginning of a holiday in the South of France with his better half, Ele, or overlooking the River Tamar at their home in Cornwall.

Sorcha Holloway

Sorcha with Yannick, photo ©Upart Photography

Le Vignoble relaunches today after refurbishment and introduction of a new menu, check it out!

For details of Sparkling events at Le Vignoble, keep an eye on their website

Southwest Vineyards Association Event- Exeter June 16

I’m always amazed by the reaction when I talk to people about the abundance of vineyards we have in the beautiful South West of England. People, in general, seem unaware of this bounty on our doorstep, and nothing gives me more pleasure than introducing my bespoke groups to our fine wineries on my day tours and short breaks in the region. It was therefore a great opportunity for me to meet some more of our local producers at the Southwest Vineyard’s annual tasting event held at the Phoenix in Exeter at the end of June.

As a guest of indefatigable Hilary of Eastcott Vineyard in Okehampton, I was pleasantly surprised by the number and quality of local producers exhibiting. In addition to the fine offerings from Hilary & Richard at Eastcott and a number of other Devon wineries, Dorset, Cornwall and Herefordshire were all well represented, giving me lots of ideas for future wine tours in the South West. It was nice to meet Emma Coulson from Polgoon, a great ambassador for their family-run estate near Penzance. I enjoyed a long conversation with Geoff Bowen from Pebblebed near Exeter and Frank Myers from Wythall Estate in Herefordshire on the EU Referendum- as well as the wine, of course!

Dorset was well-represented too with Rebecca Edwards from award-winning Furleigh Estate. I adore Furleigh’s sparkling Rosé! My recent visit to beautiful Furleigh will be the subject of another post soon.

It’s always lovely to catch up with Duncan Schwab from Sharpham and his sidekick Tommy, who is always smiling and obviously adores his work. We fixed a date for me to drop by, and this visit will be covered in a future post. At this event I tasted their award-winning red wine, a tribute to their winemaking skills in this cool English climate.

Other exhibitors present included Lyme Bay WineryCarey ValleyLily Farm, Redyeates, Sidbury and Torview. I have yet to visit many of these!

It was also fantastic for me to finally meet Wine Educator Rebecca Mitchell in person after knowing each other for quite some time via Twitter.

Southwest Wine Tourism with Away With Wine

It was so much fun to explore our beautiful region’s wines at this excellent event, but it’s even more fun to explore them at the vineyards. If you’d like to explore the wineries of the South West get in touch with me by Email or call me on 01752 662801 or 07866 472724. I can organise both daytours and shortbreaks here in this beautiful part of the world for private or corporate groups.

For more information on the South West Vineyards association check out their website here.

rebecca mitchell sorcha holloway

With lovely Rebecca Mitchell, WSET educator

pebblebed wythall swva

With Geoff from Pebblebed & Frank from Wythall