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21 September 2011

Roussillon: Domaine Piquemal, Espira-de-l'Agly

The now pretty well-established Piquemal estate originally dates from the early 20th Century and comes to 50 ha (125 acres) lying across the Agly Valley in the beautiful untamed northern Roussillon. The family started replanting and acquiring vineyards in the 1970s, and restoring those old bush vine plots worth keeping, which lie on typically varied soils: "from one parcel to another, the earth changes notably from red to black to white," as they describe on their site, thanks to lots of lovely chalk/clay splashes and marl with chunky schist. Enough of the geology talk, ed...
As one of the area's pioneers in many ways, they bottled their first own-estate wines back in 1983 (as opposed to delivering grapes to a co-op or bulk vintner presumably), and have just built a shiny new winery outside of 'town' (not much choice really in Espira: no room between the houses and streets in this typical tight oldie Catalan village). The team comprises Annie and Pierre, who still like to keep a watchful eye over their 'kids' running the estate: Franck the winemaker and daughter Marie-Pierre, who looks after sales & marketing in France and export markets. Eyes right for enlightenment on those 1, 2, 3 "scores"...

Tasted May 2011 on the Sud de France stand at the London Wine Trade Fair:

2008 Galatée Cotes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan) - nice chunky Grenache-led style, powerful and rich vs firm and concentrated. 2+ £16.95 UK distributor: Seabright & Seabright.
2007 Pygmalion Cotes du Roussillon Villages (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) - herbal 'reductive' and peppery nose, quite punchy and lush on the palate, impressive/extracted style in the end. £16.95 UK distributor: Seabright & Seabright.

From the Saint-Bacchus awards 2009:
2007 "Les Audacieux" Pierre Audonnet vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (Merlot Syrah Grenache 13.5%) - smoky spicy liquorice aromas mingle with earthy herbal red pepper tones; turning into blackcurrant and plum with darker cherry and chocolate, chunky fruity style underpinned by a bit of grip and power; tasty and savoury vs "sweet" and spicy, nice now although has a good 2-3 years in it yet. 87-89
US importers: Beaune Imports, Berkeley CA and Idela Wines & Spirit co. Inc, Medford MA.

At a 100th anniversary commemorative event of the Winegrowers' Revolt held in November 2007 in the region:
2000 cuvée Justin Piquemal Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes – smoky and spicy with rich tar and meaty edges, concentrated v maturing finish. 90-92

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