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20 June 2010

Roussillon: Domaine Treloar, Trouillas


Yorkshireman Jonathan Hesford and his New Zealander wife Rachel (Treloar is her maiden name) set up this promising estate in 2006. Having narrowly escaped NYC's tragic 9/11 disaster, the family left for New Zealand seeking pastures new. Jonathan studied viticulture and winemaking then worked for leading Kiwi winery Neudorf; a few years later they ended up in the Roussillon, lured by its inexpensive vine-land and warm climate, to fulfil their dream as the story goes.
Jonathan's approach is refreshingly honest, technical yet down-to-earth: "I just like to show people what I do in the vineyard, instead of banging on about special terroir." And, in response to the rather laboured topic of the region's generally meagre yields (and the slightly mysterious way this is officially measured, administered and communicated, from a consumer rather than rigid production point of view): "There's too much emphasis on yield, low yield = quality is rubbish." As well as entirely rational views on the Roussillon's AOC structure, similar to those echoed elsewhere in this guide, especially relating to the Aspres zone (they have one parcel of Syrah classified within this): "...valid concept but too broad, I want to make the best wine I can and tailor it to suit customers... too much variation in quality... OK for co-ops and merchants, not much good for people like me..."
Treloar consists of 10 ha (25 acres) split between two main chunks located on the gentle slopes surrounding the village of Trouillas, where the couple have renovated a huge old stone cellar and converted part of it into their house fitted with a tasting/function room. They also do lunches booked in advance, vineyard tours and a variety of tasting events: see website below for details.
The first batch of wines below was 'sampled' over a summer 2007 BBQ and again over lunch during the vintage (I helped pick a few bunches of Mourvèdre by the way).

And read on for several updates since then: latest notes were posted summer 2010.

2006 One Block Muscat Vin de Pays d'Oc (Muscat à petits grains, 12.5%) - enticing nose with floral grapey grapefruit and orange peel tones, fuller creamier mouth-feel v aromatic and crisp. Nice with ewe's milk cheese. 87
2006 Muscat of Alexandria Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes (12.5%) - less aromatic and more mineral in style with light yeast lees and citrus notes, again quite rounded and oily v fresh acidity. 80-85
2006 One Block Grenache Vin de Pays d'Oc (14%) - attractive ripe fruit aromas with spicy edges; solid palate showing very light coco oak in the background adding a touch of texture, quite rich juicy fruit, rounded tannins and a tad of alcohol weight. Needs a little aeration to soften it up: a few more months in bottle should bring all the elements together better. Good with grilled Catalan sausages or chorizo type cold meats. 87+

Updates 2008: the most recent tasting at a successful charity art exhibition/sale held at the winery in late March (will become an annual event I'm told), along with finished and currently available bottlings of their red blends.
2006 One Block Muscat - nice floral orange peel and grapey aromas, still quite lively v soft elegant finish; very drinkable. 87
2006 One Block Grenache - soft and aromatic with spicy liquorice and cherry tones, a touch of dry grip from otherwise supple tannins and quite powerful finish. 87
2006 Three Peaks Côtes du Roussillon (Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre) - named after the view from the vineyard, so to speak. Attractive lively black cherry/currant fruit v chunky tannins, hints of chocolate oak with dry v rounded texture, nice balance and style. 89
2006 Le Secret (mostly Syrah 13.5%) - a bit more oak than above layered with black cherry and spice, showing a little maturing savoury edge too; dry grip v 'sweet' texture, less chunky than the 3 Peaks but again has nice style and length. 87-89
2006 Tahi Côtes du Roussillon (Syrah Mourvèdre Grenache) - quite oaky at the moment yet has pretty rich fruit, solid framework v 'sweet' textured tannins; powerful but balanced, chocolate and spice v dark fruit on its tight finish. Needs 1 to 2 years to come out a bit. 90+
2006 Muscat de Rivesaltes - fresh and clean Muscat style, quite a kick on the palate but this helps cut through the sweetness; drier than most MdR. 85

Tasted July 2008:
2006 Motus (mostly Mourvèdre still in barrel but will be bottled soon) - this slightly experimental 'secret' batch (there's not much of it) shows dark brooding colour, lovely smoky tobacco and liquorice aromas with savoury and a touch animal undertones; chunky and concentrated with 'sweet' v savoury fruit, fairly gripping tannins and powerful framework; something different for red wine enthusiasts, it has a long intriguing finish. 90+
I also tasted various 2007 whites and reds from tank and barrel, which all show promise and confirm that 2007 is a very good vintage in the Roussillon (and the Languedoc and Provence too from the ones I've tried), unlike much of the rest of France.

Mid October 2008:
2007 One Block Muscat - light, fragrant and refreshing with 'mineral' style and bite; less 'grapey' or 'Muscaty' than the 06, but this is a nice easy-drinking dry white. 85
2007 Grenache Gris / Carignan Blanc / Macabeu (from the barrel it was fermenting in) - creamy yeast-lees fatness with lively white peach and pear flavours, fresh and quite fine with good weight too. Will report back on the finished wine.
2007 One Block Grenache? (from vat, could be called something else with a bit of Syrah blended in) - delicious lively dark cherry and liquorice notes, fruity v grip and weight; perhaps less chunky/powerful than the 06 but has very nice pure fruit. 87
2007 Côtes du Roussillon? ('base' wine from Syrah plus unoaked Mourvèdre and Grenache) - aromatic ripe blackberry/cherry/cassis, savoury edges on the palate v liquorice 'sweetness'; firm tannins and full-bodied offset again by that lovely fruit. 88-90?

And the finished articles February 2009:
2007 One Block white Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes (Muscat 12%) - the name's changed but the wine hasn't much: nice and aromatic, fresh and dry with a touch of roundness/oiliness too; actually smells & tastes more Muscat-y than before. €6.50 85+
2007 La Terre Promise Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes (mostly Macabeu 12%) - fairly accomplished style, this dry foodie white (nice with hake and roast potatoes) combines bruised apple and pear fruit with lightly oaky yet nutty and oily aromas/flavours/textures; attractive weight considering the alcohol isn't high, with fresh v toasty & rounded finish. €9 87
Summer 2009: the 2007 One Block red ended up as a mostly Grenache, Côtes du Roussillon blend and is a nice chunky spicy fruity number drinking well now: 87+ I'd say. And that one-off 2006 Motus majority Mourvèdre red has delivered its promise as noted earlier: concentrated, firm and dry yet rounded with developing meaty/savoury fruit finish. Same "score" as previously (above)...
For euro prices and UK, Irish, Canadian and US stockists, check out their website.

2010 updates
January - new red vintages:
2008 One Block red Côtes du Roussillon (mostly Grenache, Syrah 13.5%) - nice upfront chunky, spicy and lightly smoky style; showing lush dark cherry and liquorice vs tad of spicy wood texture and dry grip, then lively peppery dried black fruit finish. €7.85 France, €9.50 Germany, £10 UK. 87+
2007 Motus Côtes du Roussillon (80% Mourvèdre) - fair bit of spicy vanilla oak at the moment but plenty of blackberry/olive fruit underneath plus enticing meaty tones; lush and concentrated with "sweet vs savoury" profile, gripping tannins but more rounded than the 2006; nice oomph and depth, more successful than the 06 actually (which I did also like a lot, see above) showing promise and the kind of finish that makes you want to drink more... 90-92

Latest: "retrospective" tasting
A great opportunity this summer to (re)taste all of Jon and Rachel's vintages since the beginning, 2006 to 2008, at the winery with quite a crowd of keen customers and locals (their following appears to be growing and growing). They now have holiday accommodation available too, having done up the two-bedroom "Cellarmaster's House" alongside: see website for details. Wines noted below: refer to prices, grape varieties etc. above if not stated.
2008 One Block red - light spicy oak notes with smoky "volatile" edges, spicy vs ripe black fruits and liquorice too; quite soft now yet still has a bit of nice grip and oomph vs subtle bitter twist / refreshing bite. 87
2007 One Block red - richer and darker cherry fruit, punchier too with bigger tannins vs peppery liquorice profile; nice chunky mouthful to finish. 87-89
2006 One Block red - smokier and more savoury nose; juicy palate yet quite mature vs a touch of bite and freshness still, less intense than the 07 but finishes with attractive meaty edges. 85-87
2006 Three Peaks red - similarly maturing "sweet/savoury" style, although a richer denser wine; still quite firm, structured and concentrated actually with spicy punchy finish vs developed ripe fruit. 88+
2007 Three Peaks red - showing a bit more oak vs vibrant ripe cherry and liquorice fruit with smoky touches; nice rich "sweet/savoury" palate with dry yet rounded tannins, again has smoky edges and power on its attractive finish. €8.50 89-91
2008 Le Ciel Vide (majority Carignan) - a new wine this vintage with quite rustic nose to start, moving on to enticing perfumed blue fruit cocktail; nice bite and drinkability. €6.49 85+
2007 Le Secret (majority Syrah) - quite closed up still hinting at currants, black cherries and mint; tight firm mouth-feel with good concentration, power and depth of fruit; finishes with dry coated texture, needs more time to open up. €12 90+
2006 Le Secret - much more forward and mature with savoury aromas/flavours vs still solid palate; a tad extracted perhaps although still has nice fruit and style. 87
2007 Motus (majority Mourvèdre) - touches of oak vs meaty black olive notes; ripe and resin-y in the mouth vs spicy grainy texture, subtle concentration with punchy and slightly closed/awkward finish at the moment. Promising though. €12 90+
2006 Motus - grainy edges vs maturing fruit, resin-y dark and smoky too; more seductive now with its "sweet/savoury" profile. 89+
2007 Tahi - dark lush and ripe nose/palate, a tad toastier too; concentrated vs extracted but not overdone, pretty powerful and at sorts at the mo, although definitely shows good depth of "sweet" fruit vs chunky tight finish. €17 92+
2006 Tahi - complex maturing "sweet/savoury" character, nice dry tannins vs rounded weighty and concentrated; tasty meaty vs liquorice finish. 89-91
2008 La Terre Promise white - oily hazelnut notes, nice "Burgundy" style actually with rounded and creamy palate vs lightly toasty vs fresh bite vs some weight underneath; obviously 08 was a good white wine vintage too! €10 89+
2007 La Terre Promise white - Riesling like oily nose, moving on to buttery hazelnuts vs slightly dusty wood tones; mature finish although there's still a hint of fresh acidity. 85-87
2006 One Block Muscat - still surprisingly nice actually, aromatic and herby vs rounded mouth-feel, drink up now though.
2008 One Block Muscat - attractive grapey aromas/flavours vs greener fruit, creamy lees edges and crisp bite still. €7.25 85


6 Traverse de Thuir, 66300 Trouillas. Tel: 04 68 95 02 29 / mobile: 06 50 88 21 70; info@domainetreloar.com, www.domainetreloar.com.

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