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30 April 2009

Roussillon: Domaine Arcadie, Tautavel

Looking at their website, "Arcadie" appears to be taken from 20th Century Provence-based writer Jean Giono; and you could say there's a kind-of creative writer's touch to Agnès & Raphael Graugnard's wines. They originally hail from a winegrowing-family background in the southern Rhone - Agnès cited one of the reasons why they're working towards organic certification is remembering her father being ill after using "conventional" (synthetic) sprays, and "we don't like these nasty products anyway..." And ended up in the raw northern Roussillon because of, like for many young newcomers to the region, its affordable old vineyards in breathtaking natural settings; not that the southern Rhone is exactly ugly! Agnès, who also works as a contract winemaker for some other small domaines, said she "uses minimal sulphur dioxide (in the winery/wines), but I'm not aiming at using none (can be risky)... as long as your hygiene standards in the cellar are good."
Arcadie now comes to just over five hectares (12.5 acres) of pretty plots dotted here and there across the Agly valley and Fenouillèdes areas: see notes below with locations. I tasted these wines with her in the cosy cellar, next to their shop in the village of Tautavel (mostly from vat or barrel unless I don't specify, in which case a finished bottled wine) in March 2009 and a couple more at the Fenouillèdes wine fair in April 2009. By the way, TP3 is their 1975 ex-army truck (it's quite cute actually despite its macho nature!) they use for vineyard work and transporting grapes...

2007 rouge (mostly Syrah from vat, more Grenache will be added) - lovely spicy black cherry, cassis and liquorice notes; quite fresh acidity and subtle dry tannins add bite and length. 87+
2008 Syrah (from Lesquerde & Saint-Arnac, vat) - delicious fruit, similar to above but more black cherries; more structured too with quite fine finish. Yum.
2008 Mourvèdre (vat) - closed nose, very peppery and perfumed black fruit / olive flavours; firm and fresh mouthfeel, long structured finish.
2007 TP3 Côtes du Roussillon - very attractive vibrant black cherry and cassis fruit, spicy vs 'sweet' and pure perfumed vs earthy herby peppery notes; nice lush mouthfeel vs light dry tannins and texture, fruit and refreshing twist on the finish. Elegant and peppery with a bit of depth and appealing dry coating, although a delicious simple pleasure really. €7.50 87-89
2008 TP3 (vat sample: Syrah, Lladoner Pelut & Grenache) - more liquoricey and "black forest gateau" fruit vs again very spicy; enticing ripeness vs firm coating, good length. (Now bottled, €7.50)
2008 Grenache (Tautavel, vat) - very juicy and tasty, 'sweeter' and fuller profile vs those nice tannins again, 'sweet' vs savoury finish.
2008 Grenache & Lladoner (from schist on the Col de la Dona,  the other side of Estagel, and Col de la Bataille, between Estagel and Millas) - gorgeous big spicy nose with lots of ripe fruit, concentrated with thick tannins. Yum, very promising.
2005 Alba Côtes du Roussillon white - a tad oaky / toasty on its own but nice with e.g. baked fish with breadcrumb topping; turning oily with peach and apricot flavours underlined by spicy coconut, nutty creamy oxidising notes too; quite powerful finish, gets nuttier and more buttery after open for a day vs coconut oak and aniseed bite, definitely mature now though. 85+
2006 Arcadie Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Lladoner Pelut, Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre 14.5%) - quite dense looking with attractive ripe black fruits, liquorice and pepper on the nose underlined with background coconut spice and some maturing smoky notes; well-made wine with mix of lush concentrated fruit, grippy grainy lightly coconut texture, 'sweet' dark cherry fruit and spices; punchy mouthfeel with nice dry coating and framework vs peppery blackberry / cherry and liquorice then subtle chocolate / coconut dusting. Still quite tight and fine, needs 1 to 2 years to fully open up yet it's attractively tasty and drinkable now with e.g. a good steak. Next day: more aromatic and juicy vs tight grainy texture then more savoury and supple on the finish. 89-91
2008 Alba white (Grenache gris & Grenache blanc) - very nice spicy aniseed and fennel notes vs milky edges, spicy juicy yeast-leesy flavours and textures with fresh length. Yum. €10 87-89
2007 Arcadie Côtes du Roussillon Villages (blend as 06 above, more or less) - lively blackberry / cherry fruit with hints of black olive; peppery vs lush mouthfeel, firmly structured dry and powerful vs 'sweet' yet meaty fruit. Drinking now although promising enough to keep for a few years (yeah, right...). €10 90+

1 Avenue Jean Badia, 66720 Tautavel. Tel: 04 68 51 27 33 / mobile: 06 76 54 22 49.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.