Meet The Winemaker: James and Catherine Kinglake, Domain Begude

Domaine Begude is a small hilltop domaine very close to the town of Limoux, owned and managed by British couple James and Catherine Kinglake. With beautiful views over the Pyrénées & the Corbières, their vineyards have been organically farmed for the last 30 years and wine has been produced on this historic estate since the 16th  Century.


They are clearly passionate about maintaining a healthy, living soil and a sustainable environment solely using organic manures to fertilise. They also observe the lunar calendar in viticultural practice at planting, pruning and harvest time.

Domaine Begude is the labour and love of James and Catherine.  Many wine-lovers dream of making their own wine, for most of us it stays a dream; for James and Catherine, it became a life.

james & catherine

The search of the right vineyard was long – they looked at 45 estates in the South of France, but in 2003 they found the one.  The magic wasn’t just the view, but the potential of the terroir.  Limoux is the only cool climate region in the Languedoc and is ideal for growing top-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

winery and james

They left the London skies behind them in 2004, and have been making wine at Domaine Begude ever since.

Though the Languedoc is best known for Rhône varieties like Grenache, Marsanne, and Syrah, the altitude of Limoux makes it a cool climate area which is perfectly suited to Burgundian varieties and aromatics.  Chardonnay is a speciality, producing fresh and elegant wines at the quality you’d pay double for in Burgundy.  What’s more, they’re committed to Organic farming, believing that treating nature with nature is a more sustainable approach to wine-making, and just as importantly, helps them make the best wine they can.

chardonnay grapes

Begude has 28 hectares of organic certified vines, of which half is Chardonnay and a quarter is Pinot Noir. As well as these they have the only Gruner Veltliner in France, some Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc – which they use in ‘Le Bel Ange’, and Viognier.  Gruner Veltliner isn’t allowed by the local appellation rules, so James labels the wine simply as Exotique GV – which the French assume stands for Grand Vin.

pinot noir budding

The wine making team comprises of Laurent Girault who is the full time oenologue and manager and a consultant wine maker originally from Barossa Valley, Richard Osbourne.  There are 2 full time employees to tend the vines: Vincent Boutin & Driss Yousfi.

We’ve snapped up a significant parcel (which still isn’t a lot!) of their top Etoile Chardonnay and Esprit Pinot Noir.  They’re fantastic wines which sold out in a snap last time we were able to get our hands on them!

The Etoile Chardonnay is rich and complex, with exceptional elegance showing its cool climate origin.  The Esprit Pinot Noir is in a style similar to those of the Côte de Nuits in Burgundy, with fine tannins, and filled with plum and ripe cherry flavours.

Visit our website to buy the wines or find out more about the Esprit and the Etoile on our website, and you can follow James on twitter @Begude.

Domaine de BEGUDE, Gamme 2010

1 thought on “Meet The Winemaker: James and Catherine Kinglake, Domain Begude

  1. Great write up by my friends at Majestic- Thank you! Just one thing I want to add and that is that wine lovers are always welcome at Begude for tasting and tour- just call on +33 6 86 05 73 74 or e-mail me to make sure we are around when you are planning on visiting the estate.

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