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29 July 2009

Roussillon: Domaine de Majas, Caudiès-de-Fenouillèdes

Agnès and Alain Carrère's 20 ha (50 acre) property nestles in the rugged countryside around the blink-and-miss-it village of Caudiès; the most far-flung north-western corner of Roussillon vineland, before crossing into green hills and sliced gorges of neighbouring Aude country. With certain vineyard parcels at 350 metres altitude (1000+ feet) the microclimate is cooler here, hence why they have to wait until the end of September to pick the best Syrah plots and haven't so far risked temperamental Mourvèdre. It also means drought (the soil's deep too) and vine heat-stress are less common, increasingly problematic for growers in the south of France. By the way, they have a few Alicante and Morrastel (=Graciano) vines in addition to the usual suspects.
The Carrère's make half appellation wines and half vin de pays from Cabernet, Chardy and Merlot (stifle that yawn please, the wines are pretty decent: see below), good cash-cows especially in big bag-in-box. They bought and refitted their old cellar in 1992, the year the domaine was established. "It's a lot of work for two people," Alain said philosophically, "in the long term we hope we'll earn a good living." UK stockists are Terroir Languedoc and Easy Wine / Wine of Course (north London).

Tasted 4th Sept 2006:
2005 Chardonnay cuvée Alexandra - nice gentle peachy fruit with fresh aromas, light acidity v elegant juicy mouth-feel. €5 80+
2005 Côtes du Roussillon rosé (Syrah Grenache) - appealing subdued aromatic red fruits, lighter and more refreshing than some. €4 83-85
2005 Merlot cuvée Lucie - attractive fragrant plum and light red pepper notes, meaty v 'sweet' v tangy finish. €3.90 85
2004 Cabernet - Merlot Clos la Grave - nice cassis and liquorice flavours, quite full in the mouth turning tighter and fresher on the finish, firm v fruity. €5 85-87
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon cuvée Gaëtan - upfront black cherry fruit, fairly tight and tangy on the palate though showing some richness v firm tannins; should round out a little in bottle. €5 87
2003 les Hauts de Majas Côtes du Roussillon (13%) - scented vanilla and coconut, quite full mouth-feel with riper black fruit profile, again tight and fresh finish (especially for 2003) with attractive texture; personally, just a bit too much oak to hit 90 points. €8
Tasted July 2007
2006 Côtes du Roussillon rosé (Syrah Grenache 12.5%) - attractive enough aromatic redcurrant and strawberry fruit, quite light and refreshing; keep it cold as it gets a bit boring when it warms up. Usually €3.50, Auchan did a bargain buy 6 for the price of 4 promo (= €2.50).
Tasted July 2009
Côtes du Roussillon red - attractive uncomplicated style, quite soft and fruity with dark berry fruits, a bit of spice and minty touches; turning more savoury on its dry vs rounded finish. About €3 on promotion. 83-85

21 Rue de la Bartasse, 66220 Caudiès-de-Fenouillèdes. Tel: 04 68 59 94 41, mobile 06 21 61 38 74. domainedemajas.wixsite.com/domaine-de-majas

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