"Buy my book on the Roussillon wine region (colour paperback or eBook) on Amazon UK HERE or Amazon USA HERE. Or order it direct from me (UK & EU only). Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook. For other countries, tap/click on the link over the cover photo (below right)." Richard Mark James

25 March 2007

Roussillon: Olivier Pithon, Calce

Updated Dec 2012 - see below.

This much talked-about domaine (although I'm still not 100% convinced why...) is found on the 'high' street in sleepy Calce: to find it, look for a clue outside on the pavement such as the odd winery hose or empty palette. Olivier started doing his own thing in 2001, having worked for Gérard Gauby among others, and thinks the Roussillon "has a big future in quality wines" thanks to its "rich variety of very different terroirs and old vines." He now has 15 ha / 37 acres spread out around the village and up towards the Col de la Dona (a lovely spot for a drive or walking), planted with about 60% red varieties. He also believes that "the best white wines in the Languedoc and Roussillon are from around here! The region has everything going for it, you can do lots of different styles – simple, big, elegant, less heavy... We just need to build up its image, new growers are arriving all the time hoping to follow in the footsteps of people like Gauby." And, like many, feels the Roussillon's main advantage over parts of the Languedoc is that "people kept their old vines and it's cooler (relatively) and windier here, favouring the production of finer wines."

Here are a few wines I tasted from vat in Olivier's garage cellar (in the sense of compact premises rather than home to overblown styles) back in March 2007 (read on for latest vintages):
2006 Cuvée Laïs white (Macabeu Grenache blanc) – quite rich and toasty v perfumed and exotic apricot fruit, fresh and long with nice poise on the finish. 87-89
2006 La D18 (named after the road!) white (100% Grenache blanc) – very different from above, more mineral and appley with lightly creamy and spicy edges, again fresh acidity to finish.
2006 red (mostly young
Carignan) – shows nice floral cherry fruit with light grip, peppery and fruity. 85+
2005 Saturne (
Grenache Carignan Syrah) – about to be bottled: complex wild flowers and ripe cherry fruit, liquorice palate with a tight, dry and fresh finish. 89-91
I've tried one or two others since, I'll add them to this blurb when i've relocated them.

UPDATE 2012 live from Millésime Bio wine show, Montpellier!

2011 Mon P'tit Pithon blanc (Macabeu, Grenache blanc/gris) – appley nutty and leesy, perhaps lacks a bit of character in the end. €8.20 cellar door.
2011 Laïsblanc (Macabeu, Grenache blanc/gris: barrel sample) – quite rich and toasty with apricot fruit tones, concentrated with nice yeast-lees bite, long finish balancing power and fresh acidity. Very good. €15.50
2011 Mon P'tit Pithonred (mostly young vine Grenache) – attractive fruity and minty style, fairly simple though. €8.20

2009 Le Pilou (very old Carignan) – intense and concentrated with lush vs crunchy blueberry, black cherry and cassis fruit; has freshness vs weight too on its tasty long finish. Very good although rather dear at €33. 

19 Route d'Estagel, 66600 Calce. Tel/fax: 04 68 38 50 21, pithon.olivier@wanadoo.fr, www.domaineolivierpithon.com.

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