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07 November 2013

Roussillon: Domaine Modat, Cassagnes

Overseen/run by father/son Henri and Philippe Modat, who are originally from the Roussillon and "came back to the old country and took over some old family vines," after various high-profile legal and business careers in Paris. The estate was thus established in 2007, which comes to 20-something hectares (50+acres) in the Cassagnes area (circled by the villages of Montner, Latour, Rasiguères and Bélesta) lying on a "200 to 300 metre altitude plateau." The main intro page on their website (goes there) doesn't mention some of the white varieties I was told are in the 'de-ci de-là' blend - maybe because they really are picked "from here and there," as the name implies, from the odd white vine mixed in with the reds - but does say that four ha of Grenache blanc, Viognier and Roussanne were planted in 2009. Anyway, the dominant grapes by far are Syrah and Carignan, some of the latter dating from 1905 and 1930. Under the guidance of vineyard manager Laurent Abet, they're in the process of converting over to organics, with all the usual 'green' practices and philosophy that involves. Their groovy eco-friendly cellar, fitted with solar panels supplying more than enough electricity to power the winery, they claim, was built in 2008, the year of the Modat family's maiden vintage.

From facebook.com/pages/Domaine-Modat
As suggested above, Philippe's wines have quirky personal, and rather cute, names with reds dominating the field; the ones profiled here are labelled under the Cotes du Roussillon Villages Caramany sub-appellation, which includes Cassagnes (don't ask). Hence 'comme avant' (“like before” or “in the old days"), 'sans plus attendre' (“without waiting any longer” or “without further ado” perhaps) and “the nicest one” or 'le plus joli'... These wines are available in the UK and Ireland from James Nicholson (= the second pair of prices in £ and € - the first € price quoted is cellar door or delivered in France). Going there: “Les Plas”, 66720 Cassagnes. Phone 04 68 54 39 14.

2010 comme avant (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan from some of the oldest vines bearing the best fruit; half of it aged in new oak for 16 months) - perfumed sweet liquorice with white pepper and wild flower notes, nice 'chalky' tannins and bite vs rounded texture, weight and power; subtle aromatic fruit on its very attractive finish. €12 cellar door. JN Wine £14.99 / €21.80

2010 sans plus attendre (70% Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) - a bit closed up and delicate even at first, tight 'fresh' tannins with a hint of oak grain, nice ripe berry fruit and spice; tightens up on its fairly elegant yet powerful finish (sounds like a contradiction to me, ed.). €14.50 cellar door. JN Wine £17.50 / €23.49
And this is what I said about the same wine the first time I tasted it in a different setting, while judging at this year's International Grenache Competition (Gold medal winner):
Sans plus attendre 2010 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Caramany - attractive white pepper, sweet cherry and liquorice; firm vs rounded with powerful yet balanced finished. 90

2009 le plus joli (2/3 Syrah, 1/3 Carignan, old vines in the highest sites) - pretty heavy on the coconut to start vs that lush dark fruit again, the oak lingers a little vs very structured and tight wine still for a 2009; attractive tannin texture though, would like to try it again when it's opened up more. Dear too at €38 cellar door.

2011 de-ci de-là white (Carignan blanc, Grenache blanc and gris, Macabeu; 5 months in oak) - toasty vs exotic peachy fruit, has a touch of freshness and 'salty' bite too vs rounder finish, a little elegance vs power and weight. €12 cellar door. JN Wine £14.99 / €21.80


  1. Richard, had the Comme Avant in Ox. I can only describe the fruit as fetid. Stewed and over macerated. Remember seeing them picking at 4pm in the afternoon. So that really explains why. So many good producers in the Roussillon and Jim Nicholson picks this.

    1. Dear CTB Dids,
      We can't be more surprised by your comment and impression on Comme Avant.
      For your information, but you should already know it as you saw us before, we always try to harvest the reds a soon as possible during the day. Sometimes we need to do it later on during the afternoon. This can happen and we recognize it. However, it doesn't have any influence on the wines as the grapes are put directly at low temperature in the winery. The maceration start at low temperature for three days and it is then temperature controlled for the next 20 days.
      Moreover the 2010 vintage was a very fresh vintage for us, and our wines usually travels fine as we have experience in farer exports markets than Ulster.
      All this to say that we are very sorry for your bad experience with Comme Avant, but that you should maybe taste it in different conditions.
      We advise to decant it for 1 hour and serve it at 17/18 celsius degree.
      We would love to see you again to show you how we work.

  2. Hi there. Surprised to hear that, as it's not how I found the wine wine I tried it looking at my note. Maybe the restaurant stored it somewhere very warm? Although picking in the hot sun is never ideal, as you say.



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