"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

07 October 2010

Roussillon: Domaine La Tour Vieille, Collioure

An amicable amalgamation of several plots of old family vineyards owned by Christine Campadieu, Vincent Cantié and Jean Baill, which lie above and around Collioure (where you'll find "the old tower," pictured, at the entrance leading down to the cellar) and Banyuls-sur-mer. LTV has become ever so slightly cult, in a laidback way echoed by the people behind it. I went to see Vincent and Jean in seaside Collioure in June 2009 and was treated to a very comprehensive and enjoyable tasting, hence my notes below (and again in Oct 2010: see below below). The estate has been rationalised and reduced in size to 19 hectares (48 acres) in recent times, out of which about 5 ha worth of grapes are sold to one of the local co-ops. Jean is the more recent member of the partnership bringing Vermentino, Mourvèdre and more Syrah to LTV's varietal fabric. Their wines are well-distributed in the US (judging by a simple Google search) via Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in Berkeley (CA) and represented by Yapp Bros in the UK.

2008 les Canadells white Collioure (mostly Grenache blanc Grenache gris Vermentino plus Macabeu Marsanne 14%) - floral nutty nose with a touch of background oak and lightly exotic fruit; juicy apricot-tinged palate with quite weighty and rounded mouthfeel, powerful nutty finish and well-handled oak texture. €13 87+
2007 les Canadells white Collioure - more honeyed and upfront, developing oily mineral tones; colourful fruit vs still fresh and quite elegant. €13 87+
2008 Rosé des Roches Collioure - delicious creamy and red cherry fruity, zesty and lively vs big ripe fruity palate. €8 87+
2007 La Pinède red Collioure (14.5%) - resiny fruit with black olive and spicy dark cherries, turning meaty too vs lively and lush vs powerful finish. €10 90+
2007 Puig Ambeillel Collioure (Mourvèdre/Grenache 15%) - very peppery with rich black fruit, liquorice and black olive; tasty fruity palate vs savoury leather notes, powerful yet balanced, very nice and quite fine with attractive bite of tannins. You don't really notice that alcohol and there's no barrique ageing: who needs wood when a wine tastes this good! €13 92-94
2007 Puig Oriol Collioure (Grenache/Syrah, taken from vat) - more herbal and medicinal/spicy vs enticing juicy liquorice, blackberry/cherry; again has thick but ripe tannins, dry and quite fine finish; slightly firmer than above but delicious spicy lush fruit as well. €13 90-92
Mémoire white (5+ years oxidative ageing) - walnut coconut and Brazils, attractive Sherry style with oily vs crisp and dry palate; complex and tasty with long salty vs coconut/hazelnut finish. Yum. €15 50cl 92-94
2006 Banyuls "Vendanges" - aromatic dried cherries and cassis, prunes and leather too; lush vs solid & dry texture, savoury vs sweet, tasty and long with nice balance. €10 50cl 88-90
2003 Banyuls "Rimage mise tardive" - more oxidation but the barrels are kept full: more developed and savoury with sweet plummy notes, liquorice and cough mixture as well; moves on to meaty aftertaste with more power and grip yet intricate flavours. €15 90-92
Banyuls "cuvée Francis Cantié" (6 years' ageing in demijohns outside) - resiny dried and concentrated, complex and rich, toffee raspberry and nuts; still has a bit of grip and lively poise to finish. €15 50cl 92+
Banyuls "Vin de Méditation" (solera-style) - Madeira-like nutty "gassy" intricate aromas, very concentrated with pecan nuts and liquorice vs spicy alcohol; quite dry tannins vs punchy vs treacly caramelised nuts, lots of interesting flavours and long finish. €50 50cl 94-96

Oct 2010 update
Christine was on hand for another excellent full-monty tasting, while Vincent and Jean were milling around in the background pressing must and cleaning out fermentation vats. € prices for these wines same as above if not stated:
2009 Les Canadells white Collioure  (Grenache blanc & gis, Vermentino, Macabeu, Roussanne 14.5%) - fresh floral and "mineral" vs peach and apricot notes; juicy and crisp vs weightier rounder side, nice palate intensity and length. 87+
2008 La Pinède Collioure (Grenache/Carignan) - lovely "sweet" cherry and liquorice nose with pine (!) and mint tones; tighter and firmer on the palate vs attractive fruit and soft-ish tannins; again shows power vs elegant concentration and tasty fruit vs nice tannins. 87+
2007 Puig Oriol (Grenache/Syrah) - herbal edges vs baclground dark fruit; firmer and more austere palate, tight and punchy but has some underlying richness. Not so sure, especially compared to my note above on this wine tasted over a year earlier from vat. Bottle shocked perhaps?
2007 Puig Ambeillel (Grenache/Mourvèdre/Carignan) - riper fruit notes and more concentrated too, nice "sweet/savoury" profile with dark cherries and pepper; juicy and lush vs firm and powerful, good length and rounded tannins; again like that mix of power and refinement. 90-92+
2008 white Banyuls (Grenache blanc & gis) - nutty and honeyed with integrated wood grain tones; attractive fruit and texture vs punchy alcohol, sweet vs "mineral" finish. Promising. €10 50cl 87+
2006 Banyuls Vendanges (mostly Grenache) - lightly oxidised with meaty edges vs damson and liquorice; plum jam flavours vs savoury and quite mature finish. 87+
2006 Banyuls Rimage mise tardive (three and a half years in casks filled up to the top) - spicier with more coconut oak apparent vs rich "sweet/savoury" fruit; grippier more powerful mouth-feel then quite tight on the finish actually, surprising young still and impressive. 90+
Banyuls Reserva (4-5 years ageing) - more caramelised nose with cooked raspberry jam aromas, kind of Madeira/Tawny cross springs to mind; big tannins still vs rich fruit, complex tasty and savoury finish although it's pretty sweet though too. €13 92+
Banyuls Francis Cantié - roasted coffee beans and strawberry jam on the nose, pretty intense in the mouth with nuttier characters then a bit more of a kick too; but that attractive "sweet/savoury" thing takes over and it's surprisingly subtle in the end. 90+
Vin de Méditation (18%) - amazingly intricate "red Madeira" nose, very intense and nutty; sweet raspberry and pecan nut flavours, finishing with very different profile to that initial nose as new aromas/flavours keep rolling across your tongue. Wow. 95+

12 Route de Madeloc, 66190 Collioure. Tel: 04 68 82 44 82, info@latourvieille.fr.

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