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Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

11 April 2009

Roussillon: Domaine Rivaton, Latour-de-France

UPDATED 2013 - see below.

Frédéric Rivaton arrived as a young pioneer on the "final frontier" (groan) of the northern Roussillon in 2004 - that was his first vintage I think - and now has 12 ha (30 acres) scattered around the old old "border" village of Latour de France (west of Estagel, southeast of Maury: there's some history there...). He says he likes to work as "naturally" as possible (widely used nowadays without much official definition, although pretty obvious for those who mean it) with a lot of fussy work in the vineyard especially and only using treatments sanctioned by organic viticulture, e.g. sulphur and copper based "natural" chemicals (there I go again with the ").
The two reds below and Frédéric's very lively old-Carignan grape juice ("I can't make wine out of it..." paraphrasing what he told me once) were tasted at the 2009 Fenouillèdes wine fair in Tautavel:
2005 Vieilles Vignes (Carignan Grenache "etc.") - smoky "inky" nose, quite rustic but it's lush with wild fruit flavours and tobacco notes, nice soft spicy fruit and texture with mature supple finish. 87+
2006 Gribouille Côtes du Roussillon Villages "Latour de France" (Carignan Grenache Syrah) - more structured and concentrated with liquorice, tobacco and toffee apple; spice and leather notes too, nice now actually although should improve over the next year or so. 87-89
Carignan 1930 jus de raisin - very nice and refreshing with aromatic sweet vs tart finish. Different!
And this is what I said previously about his wines (the May 2006 wine fair):
2004 Gribouille Latour de France CdRV - (2nd bottle; the one in the blind tasting was bottled too soon and suffered from reductive taint) nice smoky tar and leather tones, rich and ripe v firm and tight, attractive style. 90
2005 Latour de France CdRV ("probably": cask sample) - smoky leather tinged with black cherries, rustic and lush with solid yet elegant finish. 90
And back in January 2005, my first comprehensive (wine) trip to the area:
2004 Domaine Rivaton (unnamed vat sample) - quite chunky fruit and structure, tight long finish, shows promise. 89

2013 UPDATE
Had a chat and taste with Fred earlier this year in Montpellier, who's moved all his wines under the simpler 'Vin de France' umbrella designation. Something to do with bureaucrats not liking and passing his wines for 'appellation', but "they're not going to stop me making wine," he explained with feeling!
Rage against the Machine white (Macabeu, Muscat) - quite wild and cider-y, lively mineral palate with ripe apple and aniseed, crisp long finish. Good in that not-for-everyone style.
Panoramix sparkling rosé (Syrah) - second fermentation in bottle. Nice and fresh with raspberry fruit, crisp lively finish, appealing style.
Panoramix dry white (Macabeu, Carignan blanc, Grenache gris) - appley edges, crisp and mineral vs nutty finish.
2011 Tombé du Ciel red - "a difficult vintage," Fred commented, "and it's (the wine) a bit close to the edge..." Pretty funky 'volatile nose', peppery and concentrated, some nice cherry fruit underneath but it's a little wild, man.
2009 old vines (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah) - quite rich and chunky, attractive dark fruit, still pretty funky although concentrated vs firm and tight still.
2009 Gribouille (same blend but from schist soils) - structured vs lush, very concentrated and less earthy than the others, solid powerful finish. Nice red.

9 rue Gabriel Péri, 66720 Latour de France. Tel: 04 68 51 76 08, v-frivaton@tele2.fr, rivaton.vinsnaturels.fr.

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