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