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01 June 2009

Roussillon: Domaine Berta-Maillol, Banyuls-sur-mer

Springtime at Domaine Berta-Maillol, from www.bertamaillol.comDomaine Berta-Maillol
This "perhaps 400 year-old estate" is found a few kilometres inland from Banyuls-sur-Mer town centre (where they also have a shop), not far from the Maillol museum (well-known 20th Century artist who is a relative) and the riot of a 'road' that eventually climbs over the Col de Banyuls into Spain. The Berta-Maillol family loves to chat enthusiastically about the region's wines - how they're made, history, what to eat with them - while tasting with you in their old cellar. In fact, there are some lovely recipe ideas on their website (see below). Banyuls Vin Doux Naturel is obviously their pride and joy - the appellation stretches across the sheer rugged slopes behind and between the seaside towns of Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls-sur-Mer and Cerbère - and these fortified, Port-style red wines slowly improve as they mature...
2004 Collioure Arrels (mostly Grenache plus Mourvèdre Carignan Syrah) - perfumed blackcurrant and cherry with lavender notes, quite tangy yet attractive fruit to finish. 85
2004 Collioure Barral - grippier and a little spicier with background oak v chunky fruit; odd sort of glue smell to start but has a better finish. 83-85
2005 Banyuls blanc (Grenache blanc & gris plus Muscat) - nice aromatic style, sweet honey and flowers v fresh zingy finish; somewhat youthful showing promise. 87
2004 Banyuls (Grenache) - appealing black cherry, prune and leather notes; not very sweet with lively alcohol and light tannins on its good length. 87-89
2003 Banyuls - more oxidised and sweeter, delicious liquorice and prune fruit followed by nice bite. 87
2001 Banyuls - meatier with stronger leather tones, lovely rich liquorice flavours within its complex developing fruit; long and well integrated tannins/alcohol, a bit drier than the 03. 90+
Banyuls Hors d'Age (solera method: average age 5 to 8 years with a tiny proportion much older) - intricate savoury v toffee aromas, rounded and tasty palate with roast beef and prune notes; very long finish, a real treat.
Updated spring/summer 2009: affable brothers Jean-Louis and Michel Berta-Maillol have made some changes in winemaking techniques and style, which show through nicely in their richer fruitier 2007 and 2008 Collioure reds; as well as new dry white wines and a chunky rosé. And a new blog too: http://bertamaillol.zeblog.com. All the 2008s I tasted were unfinished tank or cask samples:
2008 Collioure blanc (Grenache blanc & gris) - exotic and "fat" with attractive apricot and quince aromas/flavours mingling with hints of pine essence; quite rich vs zesty with a tangier side vs creamy yeast-lees notes, dry mineral bite with fresh acidity vs rounded and weighty. 87+
2008 Muscat sec (Alexandria) - lively perfumed orange peel zest vs grapey "Muscaty" notes; zippy and gummy palate with a dry twist. 85-87
2008 Collioure rosé (Grenache Syrah) - lively red fruits with creamy edges, gummy "boiled sweet" tones with off-dry finish. Nice style. 87
2008 Collioure rouge (50+% Grenache plus Mourvèdre Carignan Syrah, ageing in big tuns) - delicious black cherry and blueberry fruit, spicy and minty too; firm and dry mouthfeel vs vibrant floral liquorice flavours. Yum, will be lovely.
2008 Collioure Barral (more Grenache and Syrah than above plus Carignan, ageing in barriques) - deeper colour with a touch of chocolate oak, more liquorice and spice too; much firmer palate but concentrated too with floral vs "sweet" fruit, good balance and style showing power and grip vs freshness vs ripe texture. Promising.
2007 Collioure Barral - powerful yet perfumed with dark cherry fruit; rich rounded and liquoricey vs dry and solid, chunky and weighty vs lush and tasty. 90
2008 Banyuls Rimage (Grenache) - Black Forest Gateau richness vs quite raw alcohol (not surprising at this stage), firm and fruity finish.
2007 Banyuls Rimage (Grenache, 6 months in barriques) - mellower showing more cooked cherry aromas / flavours; lush vs structured mouthfeel, lively at this stage of course with lots of substance and fruit, attractive grip and texture vs sweetness. Very nice style and again promising. 88+
Mas Paroutet, Route des Mas, 66650 Banyuls-sur-Mer. Tel: 04 68 88 00 54, domaine@berta-maillol.com, http://www.bertamaillol.com/.

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