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01 February 2009

Roussillon: Dom Brial - Château les Pins - Vignerons de Baixas

Church in Baixas
Let me explain: the cooperative cellars in the pretty village of Baixas (west of Perpignan airport, pic.) go under the brand name Dom Brial - some of the wines with bright, sense-of-humour labels (lipstick & fruit) and others more trad - and own Château les Pins, their premium estate a stone's throw away. With this wide grape source "we can adapt to make what sells and what customers want," Claude Sarda told us during an enlightening, late summer visit. He also said there's a surplus of Vins Doux Naturels (sweet fortified whites and reds) but not really dry wines, the production ratio being about one-third to two-thirds. Their preferred solution is to come up with ideas to sell more sweet wines - this used to be a massive market in France - rather than stop making them. Either option is a brave choice...
Grapes from Les Pins are hand-sorted by about half-a-dozen people in the cellar; in general, control and traceability of the grapes' health, quality, sugar levels, provenance etc. are quite strict, as it should be in any big winery. Technical advisers work with the co-op growers (300 of them) in their vineyards, and everything is weighed and analysed on the spot when they deliver the fruit, before they proceed to unload. I'll spare you the chemical analysis but can confirm the little lab has a machine that goes ping. The winery, which takes up half of the village, has been totally refitted over the last ten years; so plenty of stainless steel and other shiny geeky stuff.

2002 Château les Pins Côtes du Roussillon blanc, vinifié en barriques (Grenache Blanc Malvoisie Roussanne) - oily oxidised development, fat-textured quite toasty yet concentrated; not for everyone and definitely needs food. €9 85+
2005 Rozy, vin de pays Côtes Catalanes (Muscat Syrah) - quirky blend for this light, cheekily packaged (bikini clad bottle) rosé: fresh and aromatic with tangy finish, perfumed and easy yet has a bit of weight too. €4.50 82-84
2004 Dom Brial les Terres Rouges, Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre Carignan, 13.5%) - nice peppery rustic black cherry and cassis notes, aromatic fruit v light grip and bite. €6 87
2002 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Elevé en fût de chêne (13.5%) - smoky mature liquorice nose, rustic black fruit set on a rounded soft palate; nice for 2002 (difficult vintage here). €6 87-89
2002 Château les Pins Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre Carignan) - similar to above but more complex and liquoricey, smoky perfumed fruit with elegant long finish. They also sell quite a few older vintages in their shop. €8.50 90+

2004 Château les Pins Rivesaltes Primage (Grenache, 15.5%) - attractive mix of sweet blackberry and leathery maturity, sugar-coated mouthful cut by drier tannins. €8 87-89
Above tasted on 5/9/06 - go down to 'France' on wines of the moment ('archive' on WineWriting.com) for reviews of other Brial wines, which are mostly sold in France at the moment although they have plans to increase their presence in the UK and US. More links to updates below.


Tasted summer 2007:
2006 Le Pot rosé (Syrah Cabernet 13%) - quite fat and juicy start with strawberry and redcurrant fruit, more elegant dry fresh finish. €3.50 87

"Wine of the moment" Feb 2009:
2008 Dom Brial Côtes du Roussillon rosé (Syrah Grenache 13%) - classic storming Roussillon rosé style, deep coloured with a light touch of tannin adding dry texture; 'winey' aromatic and crunchy red fruits with rose petal edges, juicy and zingy with chunky fruity mouth-feel and full dry finish. Nice foodie (e.g. hake fillet in Provencal sauce). €4.19 87+


More Brial here (2009 Saint-Bacchus awards) and here, my Oct. 2010 "wotm": 2009 Dom Ici Chardonnay/Macabeu.
Plus the latest medal winner is HERE (World Grenache Competition 2013).

Cave des Vignerons, 66390 Baixas. Tel: 04 68 64 22 37, contact@dom-brial.com, www.dom-brial.com.


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