Nobody believed top wine could be made on the banks of the Meuse river in Belgium. Château Bon Baron did it !
Once upon a time, there was a dutch lady who fell in love of a beautiful picturesque region in Belgium, 15km south-east from Namur. This is the Meuse valley. A lovely river with little islands and curves which creates a microclimate.
There, Jeannette van der Steen decided to settle and make a happy life of enjoying the lovely landscapes and the sweetness of the region.
She also fell in love with the gastronomy of the region of the lovely city of Dinant. Snails from Warnant,, fishes, farm chickens, blanc-bleu-belge beef and lots of delicious products.
From the one comes the other. Pairing food and wine has always been like an obsession for Jeannette van der Steen. As she thought this region could produce so delicious food, she thought lovely wine could also be made over there and…She decided to make wine. She heard wine had been made in this region years and years ago
The start of a wine estate
First, in the surroundings of her manor, the Château Bon Baron in Lustin (near the beautiful city of Dinant). Jeannette decided to plant 3ha of traditional grape sorts in 2003 after a deep analysis of the soils and the suitable grape sorts in this region of Belgium. She planted white and red grape sorts : auxerrois, acolon, pinot gris, müller-thurgau, chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet.
The story took another direction when a friend of Ms. Van der Steen brought a bottle of her lovely wine to a restaurant which immediately decided to prepare dishes and pair with her Meuse-wines.
When a wine estate becomes a « succes story ».
The efforts of Ms van der Steen to present her wines and her belief in belgian winemaking brought their first results. Presence on international wine fairs, cooperation with famous cooking schools in belgium and the Netherlands and the arrival of the first tourists convinced her she could do more.
Recently, 15ha have been planted on the banks of the Meuse, just at the exit of Dinant. The wine estate will have a total superficy of 18ha and the winetourism projects are ongoing.
Although it was difficult for ms van der Steen to have a cellar till now, she wants to build one. She also bought a lovely old church in the historical center of Dinant to receive her visitors from all over Europe and let them taste the beautiful, fruity, and spicy wines from the « Côtes the Meuse ».
We all know the story of Ms van der Steen will continue for a very long time.
Miguel D. DESNERCK
pictures and video: Henry BORZI