"Buy my book on the Roussillon wine region (colour paperback or eBook) on Amazon UK HERE or Amazon USA HERE. Or order it direct from me (UK & EU only). Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook. For other countries, tap/click on the link over the cover photo (below right)." Richard Mark James

05 October 2010

Roussillon: Domaine Força Réal, Millas/Força Réal

Cyril Henriquès, right
Yours truly, centre, and American guest
Photo: Vi Erickson
The Henriquès family's elevated hillside estate - with terrain running up from 100m to over 400m above sea level, giving you an idea of what kind of "slope" we're talking about - is accessed (and signposted) off the road between Millas (behind the town over the river) and Corneilla-la-Rivière; keep going up the track until you find the elegant orange Mediterranean villa. A personal project spanning over 15 years, Jean-Paul and now son Cyril have invested a lot of energy and money into restoring vineyards (JP started replanting in 1992), (re)building the house, a new underground barrel cellar and tasting room cum visitor reception. Cyril thinks the next step is "maybe to offer on-site accommodation by refitting the old farmhouse buildings alongside the winery." Fantastic view too, by the way.
There are now over 40 ha (100 acres) of vines in production and ten of olive trees; their extra virgin olive oil is very tasty too, if you ever get the chance to visit (don't just turn up though, as Cyril's main office is in Perpignan). Apart from the reds below I tasted in situ in May 2007 and October 2010, DFR produces quite fine Muscat de Rivesaltes and a delicious barrel-matured 'Hors d'Age' style (€6.50-€7.50 50cl), which is great with strongly flavoured cheeses or nut-based puddings. Most of their wines are sold in export markets with the US and UK “really beginning to take off,” I'm told (e.g. Mark Hughes’ Real Wine Company on-line, or see their website for distributors and on-line shop). More Força Réal wines here (Vinisud 2006, Montpellier).

2004 Mas de la Garrigue Côtes du Roussillon – nice ripe Grenache (it is mostly) fruit layered with black cherry and rustic peppery notes; attractive tight fresh palate, dry grip v fruity softness. €5 87
2005 Domaine de Força Réal Côtes du Roussillon Villages (14.5%) – more closed up with hints of chocolatey wood plumped up with lush fruit, dry tannins on its tight framework, power yet elegant too; not showing that much at the moment, it needs a few months to a year to express itself. €10 89+
2003 Les Hauts de Força Réal Côtes du Roussillon Villages (80%
Syrah + Mourvèdre Grenache) – smoky blackberry fruit with subtle coco oak, maturing rustic liquorice edges; dry structured finish v Black Forest gateau "sweetness", elegant length and style. €15-€20 90-92

UPDATE autumn 2010: I sampled all three 2008 reds with Cyril, who'd just finished picking the last of the 2010 fruit, in their cool barrel cellar at the beginning of October. By the way, good to see the price of these wines (all 3 now "classified" as Côtes du Roussillon Villages, if that makes any difference) hasn't changed much, if at all.
2008 Mas de la Garrigue (Grenache Syrah Carignan 14.5%) - lovely bright fruit with dark cherry and liquorice notes, minty and peppery touches too; attractive and quite intense fruit on the palate, light grip of tannins and a bit of oomph too. €6 87+
2008 Domaine de Força Réal (similar blend but higher-altitude vineyards, 14.5%) - similar nose to start but richer and spicier; more concentrated too with nice "sweet/savoury" style, tight fresh tannins vs lush fruit; fairly elegant too despite its (attractive) weight. €10 89+
2008 Les Hauts de Força Réal (mostly Syrah + Mourvèdre from the highest parcels) - the new oak is pretty up-front and coconutty still, but this wine shows great depth of fruit vs punchy yet subtle at the same time; firmer and more solid although its rounded tannins help absorb some of that oak, leaving a well-balanced and tight finish. Needs a few years to open up. €20 90+

Mas de la Garrigue, 66170 Millas. Tel: 04 68 85 06 07, www.forcareal.com.

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