Roc des Anges is one of those estates that I keep hearing about but have never actually visited, so I seized the opportunity for a vertical tasting of their pure Carignan at Vinisud. Marjorie and Stéphane Gallet have 30 hectares at Montner in the heart of Roussillon between the Agly and Têt valleys. They bought several plots from members of the local cooperative and now make five whites, one rosé and four reds. 2001 was their first vintage. Marjorie studied at Montpellier and then did a stage chez Gauby. First some whites, to refresh the palate.

2010 Côtes du Roussillon blanc, Vieilles Vignes
80% Grenache Gris with Macabeo.
Quite rounded and ripe on the nose. Textured palate with layers of fruit. Some ripe fruit and a nutty streak, with an elegant finish.

2011 Iglesia Vella. IGP Pyrénées Orientales.
A vat sample of Grenache Gris.
Quite rounded with ripe textured fruit and layers of flavour. Sélection parcellaire matters here. And the vinification is the same for all the whites.

2010 L’Oca, IGP Pyrénées Orientales
Pure Macabeo. Quite ripe herbal nose, with notes of fennel, and on the palate. Quite solid, textured palate, with nuances of flavours.

And then on to Cuvée 1903, from four plots of Carignan all planted in 1903, totalling two and a half hectares.

By way of introduction Marjorie explained that their vineyards have been registered as biodynamic from 2010. This required a gradual transition, as the vines had previous been treated with chemicals, though not by them. They began ploughing their vineyards, gradually turning to organic viticulture, which has had an impact on the quality and character of the grapes. They have also moved toward an earlier harvest; 2001 was picked in the third week of September and in contrast in 2010 they began the vintage at the end of August. In the cellar there has been a shift from partially crushed grapes to grains entiers, and a move towards natural yeast. And for the first four vintages there was a cold maceration before fermentation, but now they have given that up. And for the élevage they have moved away from new oak, in favour of concrete vats and foudres. With this vertical tasting they wanted to show that the wine was ‘still standing’ after ten years and that the terroir is all important, prend le dessus, in determining the flavour.

2010: Deep colour. Quite a rounded, ripe nose. Quite firm tannins. Underlying freshness. Good minerality and quite intense, but still refreshing. Quite youthful and sturdy and plenty of potential.

2009: Élevage in vat. Quite firm dense confit nose, with a touch of cassis. And a youthful and intense palate. With some leathery notes. Again lots of potential.

2008: 80% cement and 20% élevage in old barrels for about 11 months. Deep colour. Quite a solid ripe smoky nose, with some oak, and also on the palate. Quite ripe and intense, with good tannins and balancing acidity. Packs a punch of flavour.

2007: Picked later than the previous three vintages. Élevage in barriques, old ones. A slightly lighter colour than the previous wines. Quite solid and rounded, quite dense and oaky. A rustic tannic note with good body on the palate. Ripe with black cherry fruit. Long and youthful.

2006: A similar élevage to 2007. Deep colour. Quite a firm intense nose. Quite solid firm dense tannic fruit on the palate. Tight knit and youthful, a drier finish.

2005: Deep colour. A bit dry and raisiny on the nose. Quite intense. Quite chocolaty on the palate, and not as dry as the nose, with quite a sturdy finish. Less harmonious.

2004: Very deep colour. Ripe and rounded on the nose. Some chocolaty notes. And on the palate quite sturdy and intense, but less harmonious than the younger vintages.

2003: (en magnum) Deep colour. Intense oak on the nose. Very dense and structured. Marjorie observed that it had the tannins of 2003. This was of course the year of the heat wave and it lacked the charm of other vintages.

2002: A cooler vintage. Medium colour. A touch of Bovril on the nose. A cooler, fresher palate, but still quite intense. Quite solid and dense, but with a more elegant finish.

2001: Élevage all in new wood. Quite ripe cherry fruit. Quite rounded with some smoky oak. Quite a dense palate, still quite tannic but with good fruit and the fraicheur of Carignan. There was no doubt that it was a lovely glass of wine that had aged beautifully and still had potential for further development. And what a stunning vindication of that often – though less so these days – despised grape – Carignan.

And I finished the tasting with a couple of other reds:

2010 Segna de Cor, Côtes du Roussillon Villages
60% Grenache, with Syrah and Carignan. Élevage in vat. Deep colour. Ripe cherries on both nose and palate. Lovely supple ripe fruit on the palate. Very gouleyant and quite delicious.

2010 Reliefs, Côtes du Roussillon Villages
Mainly Carignan with a little Syrah and Grenache. Élevage mainly in foudres, vat with just a little wine in barriques. Quite ripe and rounded on the nose. Quite an intense palate, with very good fruit. Very appealing, ripe and harmonious.

And altogether a lovely discovery. Vaut le voyage.


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