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09 September 2009

Roussillon: Domaine Sarda Malet, Perpignan

UPDATED IN 2013: CLICK HERE.

Bearing in mind it’s located on the city's southern outskirts not far from the motorway, this sizeable estate (50 hectares, 124 acres) isn't easy to find. And once you get there, you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere: best approached from the by-pass between the two N9 turnoffs - Girona and Perpignan centre or vice versa - look out for the prison on the other side of the road! Or try the Perpignan south - Canohès rough back road.
One of the leading lights in the Perpignan city area, the winery and vineyards are run by Suzie Sarda-Malet and her young estate manager Vincent Bascou. Their Carignan and Grenache were mostly planted in the 1930s and 40s; in the 80s, Suzie and her father stopped using synthetic sprays to return to traditional manual work in the vineyards. At the same time, they started replanting Syrah and Mourvèdre and white varieties Roussanne, Marsanne, Malvoisie and Viognier to supplement the old Grenache blanc & Macabeo.
I tasted some of their range on a warm sunny mid October day:
2005 Le Sarda Côtes du Roussillon blanc - perfumed and floral with lightly volatile complexity, interestingly fresh and mineral palate. 85
2005 Le Sarda Côtes du Roussillon rouge - delicious black cherry / currant fruit leads to a liquorice palate, juicy and attractive v light tannins in the background. 85-87
2003 Réserve Côtes du Roussillon rouge - intricate leather and spice notes, ripe and rounded showing subtle oak v plenty of developing fruit; good bite and length, elegant for a 2003 (hot vintage). 88-90
2003 Terroir Mailloles (low yielding parcels of Syrah and Mourvèdre) - enticingly smoky nose, lush dark fruit and background oak; oakier on the palate but there's more of those nice black fruits with chocolate texture, concentrated and powerful yet hides its 14% and new-ish oak quite well. 89-91
L'Insouciant 4 (100% low yielding Grenache, 2004 vintage but they aren't allowed to state the year - hence the cryptic 4 - as it's classed as table wine!) - attractive 'sweet' fruit and spices, soft and leathery v oomph (the 15% isn't obvious though); in the end quite fine actually, very enjoyable mouthful. 90-92

2003 Terroir Mailloles blanc - toasty yet has lots of floral apricot fruit, quite rich and fat then fresher finish; pretty oaky but it works thanks to that lovely maturing fruit. 89
2005 Muscat de Rivesaltes - appealing freshness v concentrated and sweet, plenty of flavour and pizzazz on the finish. 89
1999 La Carbasse Rivesaltes (Grenache) - liquorice and ageing fruit, oxidised truffle notes too; dark chocolate mouth-feel with delicious complex maturing fruit, not so sweet in the end with very long finish, keeps opening up. 92-94

News update 2009: Le Sarda red and white are now available at independent merchants Lea & Sandeman (4 shops in southwest and west London) for £8.95.

Chemin de Sainte Barbe, 66000 Perpignan. Tel: 04 68 56 72 38, www.sarda-malet.com.

01 September 2009

Roussillon: Domaine Arguti, St-Paul de Fenouillet

This is Ugo, Marie-Christine and daughter Angélique Arguti's promising little estate, yet another Bordeaux (Saint-Emilion to be precise) winemaker who realised the Roussillon is better! On a haphazard journey through the region in April 2004, they were so struck by the steep elevated (at 300 metres/1000 feet altitude) vine landscape around Saint-Paul, that they bought four hectares (10 acres) within a few hours. Or so the romantic story goes... These two 2006 wines presented at the Fenouillèdes wine show, held in April 2007 in Tautavel, were barrel samples.
2006 Grenache Gris, vin de pays - pretty toasty but creamy and spicy, nice juicy fruit and concentration, weighty yet fresh too. We'll see how it develops once in bottle. 87-89
2006 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Carignan Syrah) - lovely intense aromas, black cherry fruit v rich ripe tannins; delicious already!
89-91

2009 update: gosh, two years have just whizzed by again! So, these three Argutis were tasted at the Fenouillèdes wine fair, April 2009:
2008 Le Grand A white (Grenache Gris) - lightly toasty coconut vs juicy lees notes, refreshing mineral mouthfeel vs fatter apricot fruit. 87
2007 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache/Syrah/Carignan) - quite coconut oaky at the moment although quite rich, spicy and structured too for an 07; tight and firm palate vs dark berry and liquorice fruit. 87-89
2008 CdRV (cask sample) - darker fruit profile, perhaps more concentrated with chunky framework, attractive fruit and style; liquorice and pepper vs solid and dry on the finish. 89+

And this wine in early September 2009 (a medal-winner in this year's St-Bacchus competition - click for full report and reviews of all the wines):
2006 Le Grand A Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Carignan Syrah 14.5%) - well-made polished style, powerful and peppery with maturing dark fruits vs coconut oak spice and textured tannins; drinking quite well with e.g. fillet steak although it's a bit too punchy and warm on its own. Leave it till winter. However, it does have attractive dry vs lush fruity texture vs savoury flavours; the next day, it was meatier with more savoury/leather notes vs that "sweet" dark fruit and the oak merging into it better; quite nice tannins with a bitter twist, although I still found the alcohol a touch dominant, definitely a big food wine. 89(+)


14 avenue du 16 août 1944, 66220 St-Paul de Fenouillet. Tel: 05 57 74 69 82 (in Bordeaux), mobile 06 80 18 36 22, domainearguti.fr.