WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

02 April 2007

Roussillon: Clos des Fées, Vingrau


Updated February 2013 (goes to 'World Grenache Competition' part two featuring Hervé's delicious Grenache blanc vieilles vignes 2011).

The philosophy behind Hervé Bizeul's cult estate and wines is refreshingly simple, upheld by a quiet-spoken man who claims to have been “surprised by the world fame.” You'll find more notes on three of his wines here, plus the wines below tasted in his cellar in April 2007 during the Fenouillèdes wine show. Hervé “didn't want to have a stand and hog the limelight,” believing there are other exciting discoveries in the Roussillon. Hervé, a restaurateur and wine writer in previous lives (his blog is an interesting read) said: “I'm very attached to the idea of a vigneron working their terrain. AOC doesn't need to develop, we just need to aim to make hand-crafted wines at a very high level.” He tries to “search for and retain the fruit to make rich, Mediterranean, flavoursome wines traditional to this area.” First and foremost, Hervé thinks he “makes wine for myself, then I work out how to manage the different plots and varieties” according to that principle. The ideal is making wines that can be drunk from “5 to 12 years old, except la Petite Sibérie.” He sells about 40% of production in France and spends a lot of time promoting Clos des Fées around the world, where his wines have become very sought-after. Hence those prices: easy to criticise although it's a whole different argument, and who can knock someone who's earned such a reputation?


2005 white (old vine Grenache Blanc) – pretty toasty nose gives way to a honeyed v mineral personality, lightly oxidised creamy and nutty style finishing with subtle freshness v weight too. 87
2005 Les Sorcières, Côtes du Roussillon (Grenache Carignan Syrah) – sort of reduced on the nose showing pungent or herbal black cherry fruit, a touch of chocolatey oak on the palate backed up by ripe fruit, fresh bite and light tannins. It loses that smell after a few minutes (Hervé adds CO2 for some reason). €10 87
2004 Vieilles Vignes, Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Carignan Syrah) – quite savoury with liquorice notes, rich and aromatic; fairly firm and tight framework offering power and concentration, yet lively too on its good length. €25 90-92
2004 Le Clos des Fées de Hervé Bizeul, Côtes du Roussillon Villages – rather a lot of coco oak otherwise it's closed up; power and almost chalky texture, it is long and firm v sweet fruit but just too oaky at the moment... €50
2004 La Petite Sibérie, Côtes du Roussillon Villages (100% Grenache, technically not allowed for AOC but who cares) – the best fruit sourced from a “mono-parcel,” as our man calls it, presumably a 'cool' site. Again, it has plenty of smoky oak but it's much richer with liquorice Grenache purity and very ripe black cherry fruit; weighty 15%+ alcohol which doesn't really shout out, surprisingly, with a lovely coating of sweet fruit and coconut to finish. By the way, this wine would cost up to a breathtakingly expensive €200 a bottle, if you can find any. 92-94
2005 red blend vat sample – obviously oaky but has lovely lush fruit too, quite fine actually while commanding and with attractive texture.
2005 Clos des Fées vat sample – similarly, there's lots of coco oak although shows attractive burst of fruit and the trademark power; finishes with fine fresh tannins. Needs a few months at least to round out and let that oak melt in more, which it carries better than the 2004.
1999 Clos des Fées – developing leather and spice tones, red pepper notes too plus roasted coffee, complex aromas; still quite firm with leather and nice meaty side, long finish. 92-94


69 Rue Maréchal Joffre, 66600 (ominous postcode!) Vingrau. Tel: 04 68 29 40 00, info@closdesfees.com, www.closdesfees.com.

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