Roussillon at the Maison du Languedoc

There was a large tasting of the wines of Roussillon at the Maison du Languedoc earlier this autumn.  I was dashing off to Chablis the next day, so never got round to blogging about it at the time, but better late than never, especially as there were some lovely wines.   Roussillon offers quite an eclectic variety  – you have independent producers, as well as some very competent village cooperatives, that are working well for their region.  White wines are improving apace; reds are warming and serious, just the thing for this time of year.  The IGP Côtes Catalanes is as good if not better than the appellation, Côtes du Roussillon or Côtes du Roussillon Villages.  And then there are the Vins Doux, sweet grapey Muscats and barrel aged old Grenache, which provide a very satisfactory alternative to port, especially old tawny.    I've just concentrated on two of the fourteen producers at the tasting, the two whose wines excited me the most.  

Domaine Vaquer.  

I first visited this estate in the late 1980s, for my book on French Country Wines.  Fernand Vaquer parried every question with ‘ça depend’, so it was rather a frustrating encounter from the point of view of information, but his wines were lovely, and simply outstanding compared to most other table wines from the region at that time.  Things have moved on and it is now his Burgundian daughter-in-law Frédérique Vaquer, who is making the wine, and she is certainly following in Fernand’s  footsteps, with some deliciously satisfying flavours.

2011 Côtes du Roussillon Esquisse
A blend of Macabeo and Grenache; aged in vat with some bâtonnage and an early bottling.  Ripe white blossom on the nose and palate.  Lovely weight and mouth feel, balanced with good acidity.  Some dry honey.  Lots of nuances

1985 Côtes Catalanes, Tradition  A pure Macabeo. This was extraordinary.  Light golden in colour.  Ripe and mature with a layered palate.  Again, very good acidity.  .  A slightly almondy finish.

1986 Blanc de Blancs, again a pure Macabeo.  Old gold colour.  Ripe and rounded ,with lots of nuances, fresh acidity.  Very intriguing, mature and vivacious, and showing just how well the white wines of the region can age.

2011 Côtes du Roussillon rosé, Ephémère
One third each of Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah,  Quite a bright pink.  Quite a rounded nose. Ripe vinous palate, with raspberry fruit and some fresh acidity on the finish.

2010 Côtes Catalanes, Exigence.
Pure Grenache Noir, aged in vat. Medium colour.  Ripe spice on the nose; rounded cherry fruit; medium weight.  Very nicely balanced.  Ripe but fresh.   

2010 Côtes Catalanes, Carignan Expression.  
A pure Carignan.  20 % aged in barrel.  Quite spicy fruit on nose.  A rounded palate, with some berry fruit and a certain rustic note.

2010 Côtes du Roussillon les Aspres, Exception
50% Grenache, with 25% Carignan and 25% Syrah.  30 % aged in wood for eighteen months.
Nicely rounded nose with some oak and on the palate ripe and spicy with a youthful tannic streak.  Good potential.

1988 Côtes Catalanes, Fernand Vaquer
80% Carignan with 20% Grenache.  Aged for 24 months at high altitude, 800 metres.  Quite a tawny colour.  Mature dry leathery notes on the nose and palate.  Elegant fruit and very stylish; and very intriguing and original.

2007 Rivesaltes, Grenat, l’Extrait
Medium young colour.  Ripe liquorice spice on nose and palate.  Quite ripe and concentrated.

1995 Rivesaltes Tuilé, Post Scriptum
Medium depth amber colour.  Lovely dry nutty notes on nose and firm.  Firm and nutty; intense and rich and quite delicious.

Rivesaltes Ambré, Hors d’Age
In other words, an average of 25 years old.  The youngest wines in the blend of ten years old.  Lovely dry but rich nose; quite rich and intense nutty fruit.  Wonderful length depth.  Lots of nuances.   A stunning example of mature Rivesaltes.

Domaine Treloar

This etate was created by Rachel and Jonathan Hesford, after Jonathan decided to change careers back in 2001.  Rachel comes from New Zealand and they learnt their wine making there, but wanted to do their own thing, and serendipity led them to Roussillon.,  Their first vintage was in 2006 and they now have 11 hectares of vines outside the village of Trouillas

2011 Côtes Catalanes, One Block Muscat
Muscat à petits grains.  Fresh pithy nose; very Muscat.  Quite dry, with the slightly bitter note characteristic of dry Muscat

2011 Côtes Catalanes, La Terre Promise
A blend of Carignan Blanc, Macabeo and Grenache Gris.  Fermented in oak and followed by six months élevage.  Delicate nose.  Rounded nutty fruit, with good balancing acidity.  Satisfying structure

2010 Côtes du Roussillon, le Ciel Vide
Mainly Carignan, with some Syrah and Grenache.  Quite firm and leathery on the nose. Maybe a touch bretty, but nicely so with a characterful palate. And some leathery, viandé notes.

2009 Côtes du Roussillon, Three Peaks
Syrah dominant, with Grenache and Mourvèdre.  All aged in oak.  Rounded and ripe on the nose.  A nice balance in the mouth.   Medium weight and harmonious fruit and tannins.

2010 Côtes du Roussillon, Three Peaks.
Three Peaks is the name of a walk in Yorkshire, where Jonathan comes from,  and there are also three peaks in Roussillon.   Slightly deeper colour.  Firmer fruit on the nose, and more youthful and structured on the palate.  Good potential.

2010 Côtes du Roussillon, Motus
90% Mourvèdre, all aged in oak.  Firm oak on the nose; youthful tannic and structured.  A tight knit palate with plenty of potential.

2009 Côtes du Roussillon, Tahi,
Tahi means No. 1 in Maori, and Rachel does have some Maori ancestry.  Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, in the same proportions as Three Peaks, but aged in barrel.  Medium colour.  Elegant oak on the nose; evolving nicely.  Good fruit on the palate with youthful tannins.  Good balance and potential.

And a sweet note on which to finish

2011 Muscat de Rivesaltes
Light golden.  Quite sweet spicy nose.  Ripe and fresh; lemony and honeyed, with refreshing acidity.


Dids said…
I missed this review when it came out. The rigours of being in retail. Be a keen fan of Treloar's wines, and recently organising a wine dinner showcasing back vintages of these wines, where do you see Treloar in relation to other top producers of the region?
That must have been a fun dinner. How many vintages did you have? I think Treloar are working hard to establish themselves in the top tier - not there yet - it takes time to create a reputation - but getting there.

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