Tasting Roussillon

A recent tasting in London highlighted the variety of Roussillon, showing some serious red wines and some simply delicious Vins Doux Naturels.   However, of the forty odd wines, only about nine had a UK importer.  Nor were we given any indication of price in France, so I have no idea what constituted value for money, or not.  The wines were chosen by the official body of Roussillon, the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Roussillon, as a representative selection of what Roussillon produces. 

First a small handul of whites:

2012 Domaine Boudau Muscat sec, Côtes Catalanes - £10.40 from Tanners 
This was everything that a Muscat should be ripe, honeyed and grapey, and actually not especially dry, apart from a slightly bitter note on the finish, that is absolutely typical of Muscat.

2012 Les Clos de Paulilles, Collioure
A blend of Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris.  This estate has recently changed hands and now belongs to Domaine Cazes in Rivesaltes.  Light, rounded nose, and on the palate some white flowers, with some soft acidity, but also a streak of tannin and good texture.  Medium weight and satisfying.

2012 Hautes Vignes, Collioure – Cave Tambour
Grenache Blanc.  This was fresh and lemony on the nose, with supple fruit on the palate, with more acidity.  A lighter and more elegant wine, than the preceding Collioure, but with less depth.  An interesting comparison of two styles.

Roussillon reds tend to be richer and riper than those of the Languedoc.  Grenache is often the dominant variety and that makes for warmer flavours and more alcohol.  Most of these averaged about 14.5 so some pretty heady flavours.

2010 Côtes du Roussillon, St Roch - £6.99 Morrisons
Ripe red fruit and spice on the nose.  Supple tannins with ripe easy black fruit.  Easy drinking and great value.

2011 Domaine de Bila-Haut Occulum Lapidem - £17.00 Swig, Hedonism, R & B Wines.
This is Chapoutier’s Roussillon estate.  Quite a firm structured nose and on the palate rich and leathery.  There is oak and some firm tannins, with rich powerful flavours.  This and the previous wine provide a great contrast of styles from Roussillon; one ripe and accessible and other much more concentrated, and also expensive, and requiring some bottle ageing.

2011 Domaine la Tour Vieille, Collioure, la Pinède
A blend of Grenache and Carignan.  Medium colour; some dry spice on the nose, and much riper and juicier on the palate.  A leathery note and a touch of animal.  Ripe spice and a certain warmth.  Vincent Cantié and Christine Campadieu are a pair of talented winemakers, and I can’t think why their wines are not represented in the UK.

2011 Domaine Pietri Géraud, le Moulin de la Cortine, Collioure
A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.  Medium colour.  Ripe red fruit on the nose, with some liqueur cherries.  And quite a firm palate, drier and more leathery, again with some red fruit

2011 Domaine Vaquer, Côtes du Roussillon  l’Exception
50% Grenache, with 25% each of Carignan and Syrah.  Quite a deep colour.  A firm leathery note and on the palate some ripe cherry fruit.  Rounded, warm and supple, but with a backbone of tannin.  Wonderfully warming on a cold winter’s day.    Another estate that really deserves UK representation.   Fernand Vaquer was one of the pioneers of table wine in Roussillon and it is his daughter-in-law Frédérique who now runs the estate

2011 Domaine de l’Edre, Côtes du Roussillon Villages
Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre.  A deep young colour.  Quite solid oak and vanilla on the nose and palate, but rich ripe fruit as well, with a firm streak of tannin.  Needs some bottle age.

2012 Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Réserve Roude Carmin, Les Vignerons de Caramany
A blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Carignan.  The village coop in Caramany was one of the pioneers of the technique of carbonic maceration in the 1960s.  And I suspect that this wine may well have included some carbonic maceration.  Deep young colour.  Firm leathery and peppery notes on the notes, and a very peppery palate, with good structure.    A touch of oak balancing the fruit.    Good potential.  Not as warm as some.

2011 Domaine Majoral, Clos d’en Coloum, Maury Sec
100% Grenache.  This is an example of the new appellation for table wine from Maury ; Maury Sec as opposed to the vin doux naturel, Maury.  Deep young colour.  Quite a ripe nose with a certain freshness on the palate.  Red fruit with a streak of tannin.

2011 Nature des Schistes, Maury Sec, from Les Vignerons de Maury
The Maury village coop does a good job for its appellation.  This is a cheerful red wine.  Medium colour.  Light cherry fruit on the nose, and on the palate more fresh cherry fruit, but also liqueur cherries, and a streak of tannin.   A touch of alcohol on the finish, but it is 14.5.

And now for some Vins Doux Naturels.  Highlights only.

2010 Mas Amiel Maury Vintage Blanc - £21.99  The Perfect Cellar, Lea & Sandeman, les Caves de Pyrène
A light colour.  Quite a leesy resinous nose with some oak, and on the palate quite a contrast, not what the nose leads you to expect, with some rounded sweet grapey honeyed fruit

2012 Domaine Piquemal, Muscat de Rivesaltes, les Larmes d’Helyos   £15.76  www.lebonvin.co.uk
30% Muscat d’Aléxandrie to 70% Muscat a petits grains,  Fresh lemony honey on nose and palate.  Ripe fruit and a slightly bitter note on the finish.

2009 Mas Amiel Maury Grenat Vintage - £21.99  The Perfect Cellar, Lea & Sandeman, les Caves de Pyrène
Quite a deep young colour.  Quite powerful ripe cherry fruit.  Liqueur cherries on the palate.  Quite opulent with ripe spice, cinnamon and cloves.  Youthful with a fresh finish.

1928 Maury Solera Cask 851, Les Vignerons de Maury  The Sampler - £19.80
Tawny colour, with an amber rim.  Firm dry nutty nose, with some red fruit and on the palate rich nutty fruit.  Lots of nuances and great depth.  Finishes quite dry.  It’s a vino da meditazione, a wine to meditate over, as the Italians say.  You can’t really do it justice at a tasting.

Domaine Vial Magnères Rancio Cio. Côte Vermeille
Grenache blanc and Grenache gris that have spent six years in barrels that were not topped up, so a classic rancio.  Light golden colour.  Quite a dry firm nose with a bite that makes you think of fino sherry.  Firm tight knit dry nutty palate, with very good acidity.  Very intriguing.

2001 Deux Mille Un Muscat de Rivesaltes.
Intriguingly a 12 year old Muscat.  It had developed an amber colour.  Quite ripe sweet orange marmalade on the nose.  And on the palate rich and concentrated with notes of oranges again.  Quite atypical and delicious.

2011 Domaine Deveza, Rivesaltes Grenat
Medium depth young colour.  Liquorice spice on both nose and palate.  Quite ripe and intense red fruit, with a sweet finish balanced by the alcohol. 

2008 Domaine St. Sebastien, Banyuls Grand Cru. Inspiration Ardente
Red tawny colour.  On the nose light red fruit, with hints of walnut and on the palate, more walnuts, with some depth and length.  I don’t know this estate, but I did like the wine.

Domaine de Rancy, Rivesaltes Ambre 4 ans d’Age
Macabeu with some Grenache Noir and Grenache Gris.  Dark amber colour.  Quit a firm nose; almost rancio with some firm dry nutty fruit.  But on the palate richer and sweeter than the nose would suggest. But with a bite on the finish.  A lovely glass of wine.  This estate makes wonderful wine.  See an earlier post.


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