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07 August 2013

Roussillon: Coume del Mas update

Further to the latest blah blah on partner vineyard Mas Christine below (or click there), I've been following Philippe Gard's Coume del Mas estate for a few years now: click on that highlighted link for previous words and lots of wines reviewed on trips to the winery from 2007 to 2010). Wine-growing / making associate and resident Englishman Andy Cook was on hand earlier this year for a pan-European group tasting (yours truly plus winos from Poland, Germany, Denmark, Norway...) of their, at the time, rather closed-up 2011s (this vintage is tighter and more elegant than say 2010 or 2009), and a few older ones too...
Andy talked about what they do in field and cellar as we sampled along, from bottle, barrel and tank. "We sort everything twice here... Picking usually starts in mid August (for whites) and on to mid October." They don't add acidity to the white wines; and the red grapes are "heated after fermentation and macerated to get more tannin - you can only do this with good fruit," he explained. More comments below as related to each wine. By the way, the background image to this blog is the view looking out from the CDM winery in Les Cosprons near Banyuls-sur-mer. And the photo below is of the village, also taken by Vi Erickson.

2011 Coume del Mas Folio white Collioure (Grenache gris, barrel-fermented) - toasty notes vs exotic fruit with floral apricot, concentrated honeysuckle flavours with a 'salty' tang, light oak grain vs rounded and full vs nicely crisp too. Good stuff.
2010 Special Edition white Collioure (14.5% abv) - toasted hazelnut vs floral and apricot/peach aromas/flavours, fairly punchy and rounded with a bitter twist; falls a bit short and flabby after that enticing start.
2011 Coume del Mas Schistes red Collioure (Grenache noir, 14.8% abv) - fermented in stainless steel with five weeks maceration. Aromatic sweet berry with peppery liquorice notes, closes up on the palate, tighter and leaner than I remember although has nice tannins and a bit of bite too. Should be tasting better by now though.
2006 Schistes red - savoury meaty edges vs ripe and peppery, concentrated and still quite tight and firm actually (though the bottle was very cold), perhaps less lush than other vintages although has that classic 2006 balance.
2011 red - a new blend, I think, of Grenache (50), Mourvèdre (30) and "90 to 100 year-old" Carignan ("It's older up the hill, and a little cooler at night.") only bottled a few weeks before I tasted it. Grainy and tight, concentrated for sure with nice ripe vs crunchy profile, a tad firm and solid at that time, not very revealing.
2011 Abysses Collioure (about 50-50 Syrah/Grenache, 14.5% abv) - they made four barrels of this red, new oak. Toasted coconut tones, concentrated and firm with good texture/structure, again tight and austere on the finish; too young at the mo, could be very good.
2011 Banyuls white Vin Doux Naturel (Grenache gris, fortified) - coconut touches layered with floral exotic fruit, toasty notes vs nice sweet apricot vs attractive bite, making it taste drier than its residual sugar would suggest (less than 100 g/l). "Picked about the same time as grapes for the dry whites..."
2011 Galateo Banyuls (macerated and fortified "sur grains" - before pressing - and aged in an LBV style, 120 g/l RS) - lovely fruity wine with black cherry/berry, sweet vs crunchy with attractive tannins and 'cut' vs that lush fruit; lovely.
2011 Coume del Mas Banyuls - delicious rich dark fruit, lovely tannins vs bite and a lighter side vs big and concentrated; hints of oak grain in the background, well-structured with fresh tannins. Yum, nice now but will age well.
2006 Banyuls (oxidative ageing) - lovely savoury and 'tar' aromas, sweet dried fruits with complex nutty backdrop, still has fresh bite of tannin too then savoury vs syrupy finish; looking good. "Might be bottled as a Grand Cru, although the EU is trying to ban this term!"

Their Consolation range is made from "the best selections" from CDM, MC and other partner wineries.
2011 Dog Strangler (Mourvèdre) - yields of "three bunches per vine" and fermented in "open-top barrels with foot treading." Pretty toasty and closed up on the nose and palate, dark fruit lurking underneath on a fresh and firm backdrop, grainy oak vs concentrated and elegant too actually; needs time (I'm finding this with the 11 vintage).
2008 Dog Strangler (Mourvèdre) - wild floral nose with black olive and meaty edges, powerful with a hint of freshness too, still firm vs maturing fruit, long elegant finish; lovely wine.
1996 Rivesaltes ambré 'Antic' (aged in old Armagnac barrels) - pruney yet tangy too, rich dried fruits and oxidized/aged characters vs still alive with nice bite, intense nutty finish. Good value for a complex old VDN: £12 / 50 cl.
2010 Wild Boar Syrah (14.5% abv) - complex maturing nose with rich dark cassis and black cherry, turning resin-y on the palate yet has herbal/reductive hints (?), pretty alcoholic too; that funny mix of herby/tart vs big and punchy lingers somewhat, a little unbalanced even if that sweet fruit and alcohol are slightly flattering...

If you want to have a look around their vineyards and taste in the cellar, best to give them a call as Andy and Philippe aren't always around here or at the CDM winery: contact details are on tramontanewines.com, where there's also a comprehensive list of importers and outlets worldwide...

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