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31 January 2010

Roussillon: Domaine du Traginer, Banyuls-sur-Mer

UPDATED Dec 2012

No-nonsense Jean-François Deu is very proud of his organic status (since 1997 officially) and philosophy – some wines have no added sulphites too – combined with certain biodynamic farming methods (he doesn't go along with the full-monty "witchcraft"), which seem to nicely match his laid-back manner, ironic sense of humour yet uncompromising standards. The result is an edgy yet classy range of wines going from his pure and floral site-blend Collioure red, to the peppery more refined Cuvée du Capitas single-siter and delicious late harvest Banyuls ‘mise tardive’ (late bottled). Jean-François spends long hours out in his vineyards (best to ring his mobile number if you want to see him personally, although you can taste the wines in his shop from spring to autumn) working the soil and stimulating the vines' natural defences by applying various biodynamic herbal remedies. He’s also trying to make things less labour intensive by "mechanising" some of the work, which isn’t an easy task in the area’s mostly narrow, terraced and very steep vineyards. Actually, that's a little bit of a joke; he uses a mule and plough, which is a touch easier on the back no doubt!


Jean-François Deu hard at it
from www.traginer.fr


I tasted and reviewed these wines and vintages at Millésime Bio organic wine show in Perpignan and Montpellier in January 2008, 2010 and 2012. Click here for older Traginer vintages (Millésime Bio 2006) and read on for 2010 and 2012 updates. UK specialist merchant Stone, Vine & Sun lists some of his wines.
2004 Cuvée Capitas, Collioure rouge – ripe and raisiny with aromatic dark plum tones, concentrated and chunky showing a touch of oak and alcohol, rounded v grippy finish. 90-92
2006 Cuvée al Ribéral, Collioure rouge – liquorice and spice notes lead on to a concentrated inky palate, closes up on the finish although has lovely underlying black fruits. 89-91
2005 Collioure rouge – coconut spicy oak is quite prominent at the moment, but this has lovely depth of fruit v solid tannins. 90-92
2003 Cuvée d'Octobre, Collioure rouge – more raisiny and smoky, light old wood spice otherwise firm v ripe mouth-feel. 88
2006 Banyuls Rimage – fruity pruney nose with youthful fruit v grip v sweetness on the palate; very nice style. £17.95 90
2003 Banyuls Grand Cru – much more oxidised, Tawny style with complex maturing tones; good but personally prefer the Rimage wine. 89


Update 2010: Jean-François was, as always, present, earthy, philosophical and good-humoured at the increasingly big Millésime Bio tasting held in Montpellier. I seem to have overlooked his star white wines somehow:
2008 Collioure blanc (Grenache blanc, Grenache gris) - hazelnutty and fino-edged nose; dry mineral mouthfeel, very intense with refreshing length and concentrated, lightly exotic vs spicy fruit. 87+
2007 Collioure blanc (Grenache blanc, Grenache gris) - more mature (obviously), attractively appley and fino in style; lovely nutty vs creamy palate with incisive long finish. 88+
2007 Collioure rouge - sweet, perfumed, garrigue aromas (kinda wild herbs etc.); delicious spicy fruit vs underlying grip, elegant vs powerful. 87-89
2006 Cuvée Capitas Collioure rouge – rich and smoky with lush dark fruit and spicy oak in the background; liquorice "sweetness" vs meaty flavours / texture vs proper grip, concentrated and powerful yet fine length. 90+
2004 Cuvée Capitas – turning savoury and meaty, attractive elegant vs rich fruit, ripe and soft vs still firm finish. 87-89

2012 tasting update

2010 white – peachy yet nutty too, intense mineral characters vs rounded texture vs crisp tight finish. Very good.
2007 Cuvée Octobre – ripe sweet fruit with lavender edges, turning savoury too on the palate, intense spicy finish though.
2008 Cuvée Capitas – quite savoury and leather-tinged, structured and punchy mouth-feel, very powerful finish; a tad unbalanced.
2009 Cuvée Al Ribéral (no added SO2) – lively wild fruits and scorched heather/lavender undertones, 'volatile' edges too but it works well here, intense long finish. Very good.

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