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10 March 2007

Roussillon: Château Valmy, Argelès-sur-Mer

From www.chateau-valmy.comThe road up to Martine and Bernard Carbonnell's remarkable Bavarian/Disney-esque castle cum winery & hotel is well signposted off the Argelès bypass, but you absolutely could not miss it (even if it was dark and you were wearing sunglasses...). Perched up on a hill and surrounded by neatly terraced cascading vineyards, the Carbonnells have spent a fortune restoring this old family estate. Bernard started by replanting all the vineyards in the 1990s, building a show-piece glass-inner-walled cellar with tasting bar and finally had the peeling château itself renovated. They now offer five sumptuous and well-equipped guest rooms that retain a certain timeless Old World charm; priced from €150 to €350 depending on time of year, size and meal options (it's not open in the winter by the way).
As for the wines, I found them attractive and well-made although a bit over-glossy and lacking substance given the quite high prices they charge (€8 to €16); then again, most of the vines are still young so the wines should gain more depth in time. They currently produce about 70,000 bottles and "need to get to 100K to really be profitable, in terms of the investments made," taking a long-term view like so many who believe in the Roussillon's quality future and have gambled a lot of money on it. The whole set-up is clearly geared to getting numbers of wine tourists to come to them, and why not when you have an extraordinary estate like this in a superb location? And it appears to be paying off: Martine said they now sell around 60% of production on-site, way above the average; and it's a great place for them to entertain their trade customers too.

These wines tasted in March 2007:
2005 Valmy rosé (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre) – fruity chunky and rounded with quite fresh length; good but looking a little old, look forward to trying the 06. 85

2005 Les Roses Blanches de Valmy (Viognier Marsanne Grenache blanc) – pretty toasty (fermented in oak) but does has nice aromatic apricot notes and creamy full palate too. 85
2004 Côtes du Roussillon rouge (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre)attractive creamy blackcurrant and raspberry fruit, soft and ripe with dry bite and subtle finish. 83-85
2004 Le Premier de Valmy, Côtes du Roussillon (
Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre) - coconut spice dominates the nose (14 months in oak), quite lush with elegant fruit texture, dry v rounded then tighter finish. Quite good but €16? 87
2004 Valmya Rivesaltes Grenat VDN (
Grenache) – enticing blackberry/cherry nose moves on to savoury v dark chocolate and wild fruit flavours; nice balance of tannin texture, sweetness and alcohol. 89
2005 L'Or de Valmy, Muscat de Rivesaltes (
Muscat petits grains) – delicious floral honeyed nose, fruity and rich palate with lively finish showing roundness and freshness. 87

Chemin de Valmy,
66700 Argelès-sur-Mer. Tel: 04 68 81 25 70 / 04 68 95 95 25, contact@chateau-valmy.com/ chateau.valmy@tiscali.fr, www.chateau-valmy.com

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