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28 April 2009

Roussillon: Domaine des Trois Orris, Tarérach

UPDATED 2013 - see below.

Dutchman Joep Graler's airy organic wines are the product of the remote vine-lands in the central-(wild)western Roussillon outback, around the hamlets of Tarérach and Arboussols. It's also a great spot for walking and meeting no-one else on the way, except the odd lizard, rabbit or pheasant maybe. He has 15 ha/37 acres planted mostly with Carignan (red and white), Syrah, Grenaches, the rare Chenanson and a plot of Chenin blanc; which Joep added as a replacement for Macabeu five years ago, when he established 3 Orris, because "it lacked character." He sells most of his wine in Germany, Asia, the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Switzerland; finding the French market "less and less interesting, people don't have any money!" and too price-driven. Joep has signed up to 'Tourisme de Terroir en Pyrénées Orientales', a joint project between the regional tourist board, wine and food producers and hotels & restaurants; to encourage people to explore beautiful, unknown parts of the Roussillon like this area, and, as in his case no doubt, away from thinking just beaches and ski resorts! Anyway, it must be working as he told me that, out of only 5% direct sales, about three-quarters of this comes from wine trekking tourists.

I tried the following wines at the Fenouillèdes wine show held in April 2007.
2005 blanc (Marsanne Grenache gris Carignan blanc) – attractive appley freshness with a fruity then mineral palate, nice easy-drinker yet something serious about it too. 85-87
2006 blanc "wild ferment" – so called thanks to a bit of Brett (a natural spoilage yeast) adding some funky edges, rich and quite fat mouth-feel; interesting style to say the least!
2004 La Pierre Blanche, Côtes du Roussillon rouge – appealing juicy blackberry style with a touch of tannic grip and substance to finish. 85
2005 La Pierre Blanche, Côtes du Roussillon rouge – lovely lively black fruit cocktail v fresh and zingy even on the palate, light tannins add to its enjoyable length.
2004 Lhusanes
Syrah plus Carignan Grenache) – delicious floral style with black cherry and liquorice notes, more extracted and structured than above although well-handled. 87-89
Lhusanesshowing livelier fruit on the nose and palate, quite rich then tight and firm, lush v fresh and long.
2004 La Figarasse
Carignan) – rich v fine fruit, slight old wood character intruding but has intensity and refreshing length. 87-89
La Figarassecleaner with sexy vibrant fruit layered on its dense structure, dry grip v 'sweet' coating and long bite.
2005 Aife, Vin de Table (
Chenanson) – surprising depth considering its made from 5 year-old vines, attractively fruity and spicy with solid tannins. 87-89

2009 update: tasted with Joep at the Fenouillèdes wine fair, late April in Tautavel:
2007 Aife white (Carignan blanc & Grenache gris) - rounded and oily mouthfeel with honeyed and spicy floral notes, nice fresh vs quite weighty finish. 85+
2007 La Graeia white (Marsanne & Carignan blanc) - zestier and gummier with more mineral style, quite lively and attractive although less interesting perhaps. 83-85
2007 Pierre Blanche Côtes du Roussillon red - appealing lively cassis and black cherry fruit, juicy tasty palate with light tannic grip vs spicy fruity finish. 85+
2007 Lhusanes (50% Syrah plus Carignan Grenache, older vines) – similar fruit and spice character but more concentrated and intense, rich vs tangy finish. 87+
2007 La Figarasse (
100% old Carignan) – pretty intense crunchy vs "sweet" and peppery fruit / texture, nice fresh acidity and grip to finish. 89
2007 Síríssíme (14.5%) - dollop of vanilla oak is quite overpowering, although it does have attractive intensity and fruit. Not sure, we'll see if the latter conquers the former.

2013 UPDATE - RMJ caught up with Joep earlier this year, these were my favourites:

2011 Aife white (mostly Carignan gris) – honeyed apricot-y notes with nutty rounded texture, a touch of creaminess vs fresher side too, light exotic fruit to finish; quite nice style.
2006 Côtes du Roussillon (Carignan, Grenache, Lladoner Pelut) – mature meaty lightly baked nose, complex though; liquorice fruit vs still a touch of grip and lingering leather vs 'sweet/savoury' flavours. Nice drinking now.
2007 La Figarasse Côtes du Roussillon (including 100 year-old Carignan) – hints of coconut, quite rich and concentrated, tasty and savoury with dark vs crunchy fruit, good structure and length. Good wine.
2009 Síríssíme (Syrah) – smoky ripe and meaty with minty herbal edges, dark cherries with maturing savoury tones, spicy and minty finish with thick yet layered tannins, concentrated and still closed up. Good stuff.
Not so keen on / sure about his 2011 Chenanson though, which is aged in acacia and chestnut barrels, although it was very closed up and clumsy with a glimmer of interest in there somewhere!

Mas Llossannes, 66320 Tarérach. Mobile: 06 75 02 51 00. Looks like someone in the Far East has high-jacked his web domain though, when I last looked (vins-troisorris.com).

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