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09 March 2010

Languedoc: Château Ollieux Romanis, Corbières-Boutenac

This neat slightly fading 19th-Century château-cum-farmhouse is, as legend has it, named after olive trees planted by Romans (uh oh, Roman alert: so they did ever do something for us then!), which used to cover this picturesque rolling property. It's found to the west of Fontfroide Abbey in Corbières-Boutenac country, a few kilometres northwest of Montséret off the D613 road to Thézan-des-Corbières. Jacqueline Bories has now handed over the reins to son Pierre who, together with Jean-Pierre Amigues are slowly converting the 130 ha (320 acre) estate over to organics.
There are at least 20 ha of Carignan with the youngest vines 50 years old and the most senior dating from 1896 apparently. Their Cuvée Prestige, made from this old Carignan with Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, exemplifies how attractive, concentrated and well balanced their reds are. Compare it to a €10 wine from elsewhere and feel self-righteous you discovered it here! Other highlights include the barrel-fermented cuvée Prestige white and seductive, oak-free, old Carignan-based Atal Sia (labelled as Boutenac AOC). There are also a couple of holiday gîtes, which might be integrated into a larger conversion of part of the winery buildings into a hotel and resto.

Tasted November-December 2008:
2007 Les Ollieux 
Corbières white (Marsanne Roussanne 13.5%) - attractive mix of exotic 'fat' fruit and mineral crispness, oily v zingy with nice weight and length. Oddbins (UK). 85+
2007 cuvée prestige white 
Château Ollieux Romanis (Marsanne Roussanne Grenache blanc 13.5%) - enticing buttery coconut nose, oily juicy textured fruit v spicy oak; lovely depth of fruit and exotic intensity, crisp v toasty finish. Needs a few months to come together fully. 89+
2006 cuvée Alice 
Ollieux Romanis (Carignan Grenache 13.5%) - fragrant peppery resiny cherry fruit, dry coating v liquorice 'sweetness'; lively spicy finish, nice style. 87+
2006 cuvée Classique 
Château Ollieux Romanis (Carignan Syrah Grenache 13.5%) - richer and more complex, although similar style tasty fruit; weightier with bigger tannins, closing up a bit on the finish. 89+
2005 cuvée Prestige 
Château Ollieux Romanis (Carignan Grenache Mourvèdre Syrah 14%) - smoky wilder side on the nose, ripe dark fruits too; concentrated and grippy v that tasty fruit again, more savoury finish bolstered by very firm tannins; well-balanced though with bitter chocolate oak very much in the background, very promising. 92+?
2007 Atal Sia 
Corbières-Boutenac (majority Carignan plus Grenache Mourvèdre Syrah 14%) - delicious pure perfumed fruit, lush v crunchy, lovely intense 'mineral' notes v dark fruits; fine long palate layered with herby perfumed spicy flavours, attractive rounded tannins adding poise. Later: very intense cassis and blueberry fruit v dense concentrated and grippy texture, tasty intriguing  peppery v liquorice finish. 92-94
2006 cuvée OR 
Ollieux Romanis (Carignan Grenache Mourvèdre Syrah 14%) - lots of toasty dark chocolate oak, concentrated and powerful with extracted tannins; the oak is covering up the fruit a little at the moment but this probably needs 1+ years to open up. 90?
Alicante Ollieux Romanis (14%) - different for sure, rich colour and deep aromas with peppery earthy black cherry/currant, plum and black olive too; quite gutsy, spicy and lush v dry yet soft tannins, attractive with fairly simple finish.85-87

Update March 2010: more info here including note on the fledgling 2009 Atal Sia (goes to Languedoc 09 and 08 vintage reports).
2008 Cuvée prestige white (
Grenache blanc Marsanne Roussanne) - quite toasty and grainy, perhaps too much although it did open up with food getting fatter and tastier vs still quite tight and mineral.
2007 Atal Sia Corbières-Boutenac (mostly 
Carignan GrenacheMourvèdre Syrah) - a second tasting confirms my note above: delicious nose showing perfumed blue/black fruits; nice "chalky" tannins with rich yet crunchy mouth-feel, herby minty vs savoury flavours on the finish. 92+

More Ollieux Romanis here too ("Top L&R reds over €10" tasting, 2007).

And latest COR here (Corbières-Boutenac report May 2011 featuring 2010 vintage plus 2009 and 2008 revisited...).

Ollieux Romanis, 11200 Montséret. Tel: 04 68 43 35 20, www.chateaulesollieux.com.

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