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01 April 2014

Roussillon: Le Soula, Fenouillèdes

Le Soula has featured on FMW.com before – see HERE ('Roussillon: three whites' from 2011 featuring their 2006 vintage) and HERE (notes and blurb spanning the period 2006 to 2010 on Domaine Gauby, who sought out, set up and part-owns Le Soula) - so it seemed like a good idea to add a few background words complementing my comments on recent vintage releases of some of their reds and whites...

Mark Walford, Roy Richards and Gérard Gauby bought about 20 ha (49 acres) of vineyards on the lost lofty frontier of the northwestern extremities of the Roussillon, known as the Fenouillèdes or upper Aude valley. Initially the wines were made in a small cellar in St. Martin du Fenouillet (the different plots are found around here and the villages of Feilluns, Saint Arnac, Le Vivier and Lesquerde) from the first vintage in 2001; and in 2008, they acquired the old cooperative winery building in Prugnanes, which was completely refitted, and Gérald Standley (pic.), who has a good deal of experience working in several wineries in different places, took over running the operation in the same year. He was undergoing official 'conversion' with full-blown organic certification due from the 2012 vintage, although they've been organic/biodynamic from the very beginning in any case (as if Gauby would have it any other way...). He also started the process of becoming certified biodynamic last year. The 'Macération' white wine is Gérald's baby, where he did whole bunch maceration before pressing giving wackier results, and more complex if it works (I liked it)...
Le Soula's wines are available in several top restaurants and independent merchants in the London area and across England via Berry Bros. & Rudd, in Scotland via Raeburn Fine Wines, Edinburgh (the £.££ prices quoted below); Chapeau Wine in Dublin, Paul Young Fine wines in Los Angeles and in Canada, Japan etc: see full list on www.le-soula.com. They're pretty expensive, in Gauby-esque style, but good for sure and do age well too, especially the whites actually; so who am I to knock an obviously thorough job of creating a well-distributed premium Roussillon range...

Trigone blanc L11 Côtes Catalanes (mostly Macabeu with Malvoisie du Roussillon and drops of Grenache blanc, Grenache gris, Vermentino, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Marsanne and Roussanne of different ages; a blend of mostly 2011 and 12 vintages with a splash of 10 and 09; nearly half the wine aged in used demi-muids barrels; total sulphites 38 mg/l) – juicy honeyed and nutty, rounded and smooth vs nice crisp bite, attractive balance and style, fairly easy going.
2010 Le Soula blanc Côtes Catalanes (mostly Macabeu with Sauvignon and Grenache blanc plus Chardonnay, Malvoisie and Vermentino; about 30% aged in demi-muids including small portion of new wood; total sulphites 5 mg/l) – richer and creamier with nutty notes, lees-y with buttered toast, concentrated and lush with powerful yet still fresh finish. Yum. £21-£24
La Macération du Soula blanc L10 Côtes Catalanes (mostly Vermentino with Macabeu; blend of 2010 and 2009 vintages; mostly barrel aged; total sulphites 25 mg/l) – aromatic orange peel nut and peach blossom, richer hazelnut and sweet fruit flavours coming in vs intense finish; different.
Trigone rouge L12 Côtes Catalanes (mostly Syrah and Carignan with a touch of Grenache; a blend of mostly 2011 and 12 vintages with a splash of 10 and 09; 25% barrel aged; total sulphites 16 mg/l) – slightly 'reduced' and funky at first, moves on to lively spicy Syrah style with black cherry vs crunchier blueberry fruit; nice depth and subtle grip developing more liquorice fruit on the finish.
2010 Le Soula rouge Côtes Catalanes (mostly Carignan and Syrah with a touch of Grenache; mostly barrel aged including portion of new wood; total sulphites 27 mg/l) – wilder and peppery, intense crunchy fruit vs dark and smoky edges, light chocolate oak undertones on the attractive finish. £21-£25

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