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15 May 2009

Roussillon: Domaine Pouderoux, Maury

Catherine and Robert Pouderoux (pictured) coax a pretty impeccable range of Côtes du Roussillon Villages and Maury (all styles) from their 18 ha (45 acres), it has to be said. The vineyards are split between the latter village and Latour-de-France, about 10 km southeast, planted mostly with red grapes - Grenache for AOC Maury, the latter plus Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre for CdRV - and one parcel of white Grenache. Robert took us out for a drive up above Maury (taking the Cucugnan road), where you get a great view of the whole appellation and very much beyond: buttressed between the Corbières hills and a loosely parallel coupled ridge that form the valley here. This particular spot is "too exposed" (it hit 35°C = 95+F that 4th Sept. 2006 day by the way) according to Robert; his vineyard is over the other side, where there's some 100+ year-old Grenache. Very dry looking, handsomely gnarled bush vines, difficult to believe they're still alive.
In the cellar, there are several different sizes and materials of vat to enable them to "vinify all parcels separately, even the same varieties." Hence the names on the labels reflect specific plots. The good news for readers of my vinous drivel is that Pouderoux is very export-orientated - 70% and increasing - and their Maury 'mise tardive' (late bottled) is now listed in 100 Waitrose stores (£9.49, see note below); for other wines available in the UK contact Thorman Hunt, London SE11. Read on for 2009 and 2012 updates.

2004 Roc de Plane, white vin de pays (it has to be by law, as if anyone outside of France cares: AOC requires 3 grapes and this is 100% lovely Grenache blanc. Bureaucrats you know where you can stick your paperwork!) - barrel fermented and aged (12 months total) giving nice fatness set against floral peach and aniseed notes, celery and mineral freshness on the finish too. 87-89
2003 Latour de Grés Côtes du Roussillon Villages (50% Carignan plus old Mourvèdre and Syrah, 13.5%) - complex and delicious nose, liquorice & spicy
garrigue notes turning into leather & chocolate; concentrated and weighty with very light spicy choco oak tones, firm and fresh length. 90-92
2003 Terre Brune Côtes du Roussillon Villages (50% Grenache plus old Mourvèdre and Syrah, 14%) - more perfumed than above showing black cherry & olive with earthy undertones, ripe juicy black fruit palate with depth and style, light coating of choco oak and textured tannins, 'sweet' v savoury profile; more powerful than above yet still has finesse and freshness. 92-94
2003 La Mouriane (Grenache Syrah, 14.5%) - barrel fermented with hand plunging (they take the top off): toasty dark fruit, quite oaky yet perfumed and fresh too, 'sweet' choco coating v very rich, tangy black olive savoury fruit; powerful finish, out of kilter at the moment and difficult to read, should be good though (only 200 cases made, €30 a bottle)!
2004 Maury - lovely cassis and black cherry aromas, concentrated rich mouth-feel v dry bite and freshness, very lively fruit v firm tannins and dark choco finish. 90-92
2002 Maury 'late bottled' (2 years in barrel) - perfumed cinnamon and jam notes developing intricate coffee edges, black cherry fruit seems sweeter and lighter than above, but this also has attractive coating and bite of tannins v alcohol; very nice now. 90+
Maury Hors d'Age (15 years' average age) - developing leather and dried fruit notes, soft sweet raspberry palate, seems fierier and more Port like; lingering coating of fruit and tannins. 90
Maury Grande Réserve (part aged in demijohns outside) - more developed still in an old tawny fashion, bitter choco v dried fruits, fatter and sweeter mouth-feel; attractive although less interesting style perhaps (in my opinion anyway).
2004 Muscat de Rivesaltes - all the 05 is already sold out, so this was an indicative sample: still retains charming freshness and citrus edges, sweet & concentrated yet nice cut adds elegance.

Update spring/summer 2009: a long overdue visit had me tasting all around Robert Pouderoux's cellar and most of his 2008s from vat or barrel, as well as more or less all the latest vintages of their range.
Grenache gris & Grenache blanc (40 years old at 300m altitude) - exotic apricot, peach and spices; quite rich and concentrated vs mineral / salty twist, subtle coconut oak spice and texture with nice lively finish. 88+
2008 Grenache blanc & Macabeu (50 years old, same spot) - more citrus and floral notes with gummy lees too, intense and fresh vs delicious juicy texture. 88+
Robert will blend both of these into one white wine.
2008 Grenache - gorgeous vibrant "sweet" and spicy black fruits; dry yet attractively textured with juicy vs firm finish. He's going to do a 100% Grenache cuvée this vintage.
2008 Mourvèdre - peppery and powerful with gripping although fine tannins, punchy and structured vs ripe and rounded.
2008 Carignan - violets, blueberries and black cherries; refreshing and intense wine, very promising.
2008 Syrah - more closed up and has taken up more wood at this stage, very firm framework vs spicy and "sweet" fruit.
2007 Roc de Plane vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes white (13.5%) - lively citrus and orange peel vs exotic fruit and yeast-lees bite; a touch of dry salty mineral texture vs oily weight and exotic fruit, nice balance and style. 87+
2006 Terre Brune Côtes du Roussillon Villages (mostly Grenache plus Mourvèdre Syrah 14.5%) - not very revealing at that moment: "sweet & savoury" in style with rich and chunky vs tight dry mouthfeel, a bit of grainy wood lingers on its structured finish. Not showing brilliantly although the building blocks are in place...
2005 Latour de Grés Côtes du Roussillon Villages (50% Carignan plus Mourvèdre Syrah 14.5%) - a bit baked/oxidised (already open); quite big liquorice vs savoury flavours, solid long finish with leather and ripe "tar" notes.
2004 La Mouriane Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Syrah from north-facing "colder" soils) - more savoury still with very firm framework, attractive leather tones vs lush and peppery fruit vs mouth-coating tannins. Wow. 90+
2007 Maury vendange ("sur grains," early bottled "vintage" style) - aromatic dark cherries and cassis with leather and tobacco edges; sweet vs firm mouthfeel showing attractive balance of fruit, tannin, alcohol and residual sugar. 88+
2004 Maury mise tardive ("late bottled" with 2 years in barrel then 2 in bottle before release) - more baked and "oxidative" in style showing cooked fruit, more complex and peppery too; dry vs sweet vs meaty palate, touch more powerful on the finish. 89
Maury Hors d'Age (longer cask ageing, blend of 12 to 15 year-old wines) - browner colour and more liqueur like in style, much more toffee and pecan nut nose / flavours; spicy, firm and sweet in the mouth, complex and long. 92+
Maury Grande Réserve (less cask ageing than above but some left in demijohns outside) - more oxidised on the nose with lots of toffee and cooked raspberry; again firm and punchy mouthfeel with leather tones, grippy vs sweet texture. Interesting style for sure although I prefer the previous one. 89

2012 UPDATE HERE: Pouderoux launches new organic Roussillon range called Domaine Lavista...

2 Rue Emile Zola, 66460 Maury. Tel: 04 68 57 22 02, domainepouderoux@orange.fr / www.domainepouderoux.fr.

01 May 2009

Roussillon: Domaine Calvet-Thunevin, Maury

Jean-Luc Thunevin needs little introduction (Château Valandraud and other St-Emilion properties); winegrower Jean-Roger Calvet is the local partner in this Maury-based estate and the one who runs it day to day. The Thunevin name has certainly attracted a lot of attention to the domaine (and high prices too) and this area on the whole; and soon you won't be able to miss it arriving in Maury from the Estagel direction, as they're building a huge winery and shop at the village entrance. He, Jean-Roger (a charming down to earth chap by the way) and their American importer (New York's Eric Solomon) have recently purchased a further 10 hectares in the Lesquerde area to the south, bringing the estate to 60 ha/150 acres. They've also set up a merchant company to buy in grapes to boost production, so obviously believe in the region's future. Interesting to note that this very red-focused producer is starting to make a few traditional sweet Vin Doux Naturel wines "to see if it works," JR told me. The following were tasted in the Dom CT cellar (a genuine 'garage' in fact), April 2007.
2004 Cuvée Constance, vin de pays Côtes Catalanes (Grenache Carignan) - lightly leafy, a bit reduced even? Odd slightly sour palate to start, however it ends up quite firmly structured vs almost elegant actually. Needs airing maybe? €6
2004 Les Dentelles, Côtes du Roussillon Villages (mainly old Grenache Carignan) - quite toasty coco oak but less obvious than previous vintages (e.g. 2002), firm Bordeaux style with floral cherry fruit; nice texture of fine spicy tannins, again relatively elegant. €18 87-89
2003 Hugo, Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Syrah Carignan) - more seductive with juicy liquorice and tobacco fruit, very rich with firm chocolate oak; powerful but not so overblown. €30 88-90
2004 Les Trois Marie, Côtes du Roussillon Villages (mostly Grenache) - rich glob of liquorice, black cherry and lightly oxidised leather; coconut oak layered palate that again finishes a bit too much on the wood tannins, although there is sweet fruit underneath. Priced at a very reasonable €100! 90 perhaps, as a show wine. Admittedly, the oak started to calm down a little on these wines over lunch.
Spring/summer 2009 update: I tasted Jean-Roger's currently available vintages in a rather different setting - the bold new Calvet-Thunevin statement winery, made from massive blocks of sand-coloured Gard stone, is very much operational and has somewhat altered the view on the way in to town! Those additional 10 ha (25 acres) of mostly Syrah and some Carignan mentioned above, planted on granite soils at 400+ metres altitude (1300 feet) near the village of Lesquerde, are now on stream bringing more "cooler-climate" fruit to the blends. "We've also moved to more sorting," Jean-Roger added, "and ageing in larger barrels" (good: hopefully less oaky wines then. And following on from his comments above about doing a Maury VDN style; well, see below for the result (definitely worthwhile)! They'll be launching a dry white wine this year too, so I look forward to trying it...
2005 Cuvée Constance Vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (Grenache Syrah Carignan 14.5%) - showing some ripe strawberry and liquorice fruit, a bit baked/oxidised though (it was already open, don't know for how long...); firm and dry textured with not bad fruit and punch, lacks a bit of charm. 80-85
2005 Les Dentelles Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Carignan) - nice gamey edges vs liquorice and spice; powerful firm mouthfeel with subtle oaking (hoorah) adding texture, leaner and tighter on the finish than I thought it would be. 87+
2004 Hugo Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Carignan Syrah 15%) - again a bit baked on the nose (open), has richer extracted dark fruit with meaty edges vs very firm tannins still; however, its big concentrated mouthful is certainly seductive. 87+
2005 Les trois Marie Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache 16%) - very rich and extracted with quite a lot of chocolate oak, although enticingly lush, peppery and meaty too; big grainy tannins give a solid dry palate but there's a bit of underlying freshness too, and still shows better balance despite its 16% alc. Needs 1-2 years to open up. 88-90
2004 Maury (Grenache 80 grams/litre residual sugar) - attractive fruity vs meaty leathery notes; chunky and grippy mouthfeel vs good sweet fruit with maturing edges. 88+
13 rue Pierre Curie, 66460 Maury. Tel: 04 68 51 05 57,
contact@thunevin-calvet.fr, www.thunevin-calvet.fr.


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