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ROUSSILLON ‘French Catalonia’ Wild Wine Country by Richard Mark James: Buy my book on Amazon UK (paperback with colour photos and e-book) or black & white version. Or Amazon USA (colour paperback and e-book) or black & white. For other countries, click on the cover image below for details.

31 March 2014

Roussillon: Domaine Jolly Ferriol, Espira de l'Agly

Isabelle Jolly and Jean-Luc Chossart took over this three-and-a-half-century old property, in that cute old Catalan farmhouse style, in 2005, which is found off the meandering main road between Espira and Cases de Pène, a few kilometres west of Rivesaltes. They've been farming organically from the start (they're now 'certified' anyway) using indigenous yeasts for 'spontaneous' fermentation, and most of their wines have no added sulphites (except the Muscat de Rivesaltes as stated below for instance) and don't get fined or filtered they claim. This riskier 'natural' approach can sometimes lead to mixed results, although it's mostly successful with the wines I tasted here, especially their "blah blah" white based on Grenache gris, varietal Syrah and a couple of very different Muscats. More about Isabelle and Jean-Luc, their way of life, details on the wines etc. on where I pinched this photo from.

2012 Blablablanc (mostly Grenache gris with Macabeu) – floral peach blossom vs yeast lees and nutty characters, intense and tasty palate with long finish; very nice white.
2012 Pet'Nat ("naturally sparkling" Muscat from second fermentation in bottle, 12% abv) – attractive and unusual style with biscuity notes vs grapey flavours; fairly light and easy.
2010 Fait d'Hiver (Syrah, Grenache, Carignan) – funky 'volatile' nose vs pure ripe dark fruit cocktail, dried and earthy with chunky vs soft mouth-feel; quite intense, a little on the wild side though.
2009 Syrah – perfumed violet and black cherry, turning more liquorice-y and peppery on the palate, rich fruit and tannins but rounded and quite fine for 'hot dry year' 2009.
2006 Muscat de Rivesaltes (total sulphites 28 mg/l) – “very low yields and much less alcohol added than usual,” I was told. Complex marmalade and quince notes with orange peel zest, nutty and toasty too on the palate. Lovely style.
Passe-temps Rivesaltes ambré (70% Macabeu, 30% Grenache gris; 3 years cask ageing, 16% abv) – nutty and dried fruits, oxidizing 'Madeira' profile although fruitier, intense bitter vs sweet mouth-feel with tasty ageing savoury flavours.

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