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18 March 2013

Roussillon: Clos du Rouge Gorge, Latour-de-France

Cyril Fhal landed in Latour land over ten years ago, having worked at two small estates in the Anjou and Saumur wine regions, where he became committed to the idea of working organically. He's one of now a dozen organic independent growers in the village (half of them are on this blog) and is known for putting in a good deal of painstaking hours in the vineyard, with the aim of enticing “very pure juice” from his grapes, as he put it. The 'Red Neck' vineyard comes to just six patchwork hectares (15 acres) of old vines (50 to 100 years old) on elevated rocky slopes dotted around Latour-de-France, half of which is senior-citizen Carignan nestling up against Grenache, Cinsault and Maccabeu. Cyril is in the “no or low sulphite” camp, and his wines do have some of those quirky 'natural' winemaking edges; but there's an elegant fresher side to them too with some intriguing tasty flavours. By the way, his 'young vines' red is apparently made from 25 year-old Grenache, which isn't very young in vine terms and perhaps gives you a glimpse of where he's coming from.
These (admittedly rather expensive) wines are available from Vine Trail in the UK - where I borrowed some of this info from, as it seems Cyril is far too busy, or wise perhaps, to have a website, blog or Facebook page; though I did meet him at last year's Real Wine Fair in London. The £GBP prices below are for a mixed case, €uros an average on-line price in France and $ price at Chambers Street Wines, NYC. Going there: 6 place Marcel Vié. Phone: 04 68 29 16 37, cyrilfhal@gmail.com.

2008 white Côtes Catalanes (Macabeu) – nutty appley lightly oxidised style, but this wine is tasty and quite long on the finish with an attractive mix of 'mineral' and rounded sensations. £18.25, €20
2010 Jeunes Vignes red Côtes Catalanes (Grenache) – light rustic-edged red, again has some of those apple/cider tones but is soft elegant and tasty in the end; quite light but it flows, man. Not great value @ £17.85, €18.50.
2007 Vieilles Vignes red Côtes Catalanes (mostly Carignan with Grenache) – similar profile on the nose but more concentrated with lush vs tarter blue fruit characters, grippy fresh palate yet has nice texture and interesting flavours. £23.50, €30, $33

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