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16 December 2020

Roussillon: top 100 red wines

Apart from another excuse to plug my new book on the Roussillon (links to previous post with details, or go straight to Amazon UK or USA or Barnes & Noble to buy it - other formats and countries' stores are also linked in the post above), here are some of my hot red wine tips from the region made by producers featured in the book. Many winemakers have just released their 2018 and 2019 reds, and I look forward to tasting more of these next year (?!) when we're able to travel safely to France again due to the ongoing Covid-19 nightmare.
In the meantime, I've bought some of these vintages, although it's easier said than done living where I do (limited presence of Roussillon wines locally). Hence this pick of some of my favourites includes red wines mostly from three earlier and quite different vintages (2017, 2016 and 2015), some of which will still be available, plus a few older ones that stood out in a tasty maturing way (2014 to 2010) as well as a couple from 2018 and 2019. The idea was to keep this 'list' as focused as possible (not successful then), as there are many more good wines that could have been included and are detailed in the book.
Similarly to my article on Roussillon white wines published (was it really that long ago) over two years ago, this top 100 (approx) red wine frenzy is simply arranged by village area meandering from north to south (like the winery profile section of the book) to avoid any kind of false judgmental 'this appellation is better than that one' type generalisations. Naturally, to find out more about these winemakers, vineyards, wine villages, sightseeing tips and other regional wine info, you'll have to buy my book. Did I mention that already?!
Photo = 'Lavail vigne' © CIVR: vine-scape near Maury. The villages listed in each header are where the wineries are based (but not necessarily their vineyards); the village names following Côtes du Roussillon Villages... (CRV) AOP e.g. CRV Latour-de-France, are one of a handful of subzone designations within the CRV appellation. IGP = Indication Géographique Protegée with Côtes Catalanes being the largest and most popular (covers the entire wine-growing area in Les Pyrénées Orientales, the Roussillon's département name).


Domaine de Vénus ‘Terre d’Ocre’ CRV 2015 (unoaked Grenache, Syrah and Carignan) - Lovely spicy fruit, chunky texture and fine tannins.
Domaine Thunevin-Calvet ‘Les Dentelles’ CRV 2015 (old-vine Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, eighteen months in barrels and concrete vats) - Ripe textured, powerful with gamey edges and spicy kirsch, black cherry, liquorice fruit, well-balanced.
Domaine de la Pertuisane ‘Le Nain Violet’ Côtes Catalanes IGP 2016 (old Grenache, fifteen months in cask) - Powerful with lots of spicy aromatic dark berry fruits and fine-grained tannins.
D66 Côtes Catalanes IGP 2016 (85% Grenache with Syrah and Carignan) - Big fruity extracted style although has plenty of substance behind the oaky façade, developing savoury notes with age.
Domaine La Toupie ‘Sur un Fil Rouge’ Maury sec 2016 (Grenache 70% with one-quarter Syrah and the rest Mourvèdre) - Tasty concentrated red showing aromatic dark berry fruit with savoury and chocolate sides, well-poised considering powerful sometimes 15% abv and tautly textured tannins.
Vignerons de Maury 'Granit Tradition' CRV Lesquerde 2017 (Syrah and Grenache) - Offers plenty of vibrant peppery black cherry fruit. Their 'Tradition' Maury sec 2016 was good too.
Clos des Vins d’Amour ‘1 + 1 = 3’ Maury sec 2015 (60% Grenache, Carignan and Syrah fermented in vat) - Quite delicate with spicy berry fruit then more structured chalky texture on a subtle finish.
Mas Mudigliza ‘Carminé’ CRV 2014 (Grenache and Syrah) - Powerful with plenty of black fruits, liquorice and spice.
Domaine Semper ‘Voluptas’ CRV Lesquerde 2014 (majority Syrah with Carignan and Grenache, partly barrel-fermented but mostly in vat) - minty with rich and tasty palate.
Domaine of the Bee CRV 2015 (Grenache & Carignan; the best Grenache fermented in open-top barrels while the rest and all the Carignan in stainless steel tanks, then aged in cask for 12-18 months) - Deft combo of coconut oak, concentrated dark and spicy fruit with trademark oomph on the palate. Their top cuvée ‘Les Genoux’ 2015 (mostly Grenache with some white and pink grapes) also had hints of spicy oak yet was surprisingly subtle with intense taut finish.
Château Saint-Roch ‘Chimères’ CRV 2015 (60-65% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 5-10% Carignan) - Lovely savoury fruited and well-textured red, although the 2016 didn’t show well in a blind tasting. Their ‘Kerbuccio’ label has been a Maury sec (60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre) since the classy 2011 vintage to the structured savoury 2014 and intense but awkward 2015. One of two impressive old-vine Carignans was the lovely fragrant ‘Tesselae’ Côtes Catalanes 2015.
Domaine Pouderoux–Lavista - Their excellent ‘Montpin’ Maury sec 2014 was featured in an earlier post linked below. And ‘Latour de Grés’ CRV 2015 (60% Carignan planted in 1901 with Mourvèdre and Syrah, aged in cask for 12 months) showed lovely balance of structured mouth-feel, dark fruit and complex savoury edges.
Domaine des Enfants 'L’Enfant Perdu' Côtes Catalanes 2012 (Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Lladoner Pelut) – Coconut notes with peppery berry fruit, maturing elegant finish with good depth. Another solid 2012 red was 'Suis l’Etoile' (Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre): more intense and concentrated with blue fruits, light bitter twist on its long finish.

Saint-Paul de Fenouillet, Saint-Martin de Fenouillet & Prugnanes
Domaine de la Préceptorie ‘Terres Nouvelles’ 2015 (mostly Grenache with Carignan, two years in large old casks) - Tightly structured and concentrated; another solid example of the Maury sec appellation like their 'Copain Comme Cochon' 2016.
Maison Jean Pla ‘Le Ver Vert Bio2’ CRV 2015 (organic Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre from Vingrau and Espira) - Quite concentrated with fine tannins.
Domaine Laguerre ‘Le Ciste’ CdR 2015 (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre matured in wood vats and barriques for 12-15 months) - Structured when young, powerful concentrated yet well poised. Two good 2016s as well: ‘Eos’ rouge (mostly Grenache with Syrah) with lovely perfumed fruit and chalky tannins; and ‘Le Passage’ (80% Carignan plus Syrah, sometimes Grenache) which was tightly textured with pure spicy fruit.
Domaine Le Soula ‘Trigone’ rouge (majority Syrah with old-vine Carignan and occasionally Grenache - it’s usually a blend of three vintages - two-thirds aged in cask) - Sometimes slightly ‘reduced’ and ‘funky’ on the nose at first but moves on to lively spicy Syrah style with black cherry plus crunchier blueberry fruit, good depth and subtle grip while developing hints of liquorice.

Lesquerde, Saint-Arnac & Lansac
Domaine Paul Meunier-Centernach ‘Pétaillat’ Côtes Catalanes 2015 (single site with Grenache and a hint of Macabeu, matured in barrel for fourteen months) - Firm and chunky while dark and savoury, serious red.

Tautavel & Vingrau
Mas de la Devèze Maury sec 2016 (two-thirds Grenache, 25% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, 12 months in barrels) - Powerful and structured with aromatic berry and kirsch fruit, taut yet supple tannins. Their 2015 ‘Pandore’ CRV (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan) had lovely dark fruit and integrated oak/tannins, although the 2016 didn’t show well a year later.
Mas Janeil ‘sans soufre’ CRV 2016 (meaning no added sulphites; up to half Mourvèdre with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah) - Rich lively and quite concentrated with fragrant blackcurrant/cherry, although the 2017 had turned a tad baked? Their limited-edition ‘Le Pas de la Mule’ (mostly old Grenache aged for 12 months in new casks) needs time to integrate with the oak, like the tasty concentrated and savoury 2010 vintage; or the beefy closed-up 2015, oaky but promising.
Domaine La Différence ‘La Racine Carrée’ CRV 2016 - Enticing fruit, supple tannins, powerful yet well-balanced.
Domaine Val de Ray ‘Fusion’ CRV Tautavel 2014 (60% Mourvèdre, 40% Syrah) - Chunkier and fruitier than three other equally good Tautavel reds (‘Charme’, ‘Attraction’ and ‘Séduction’) with fine tannins.
Domaine des Soulanes ‘Bastoul Laffite’ Maury sec 2013 (old vine Grenache 80% with Carignan) is featured in a previous post as mentioned below; and the 2012 was impressive too. Their ‘Kaya’ rouge Côtes Catalanes 2014 (mostly Carignan) was juicy perfumed and elegant blueberry fruit, lively with succulent tannins.

Domaine Rancy CRV Latour-de-France 2016 (often 50-50 Carignan and Mourvèdre, sometimes with Grenache) - Attractive savoury-edged fruit and firm yet rounded tannins; and ‘Els Petits Raims’ 2015 was an unexpected, rich and meaty blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre with 10% Tannat.
Le Roc des Anges 'L'Effet Papillon' Côtes Catalanes 2019 (Grenache & Syrah) - Deep coloured and dry textured but ripe, rounded and fruity with peppery kirsch and black cherry. And ‘Australe’ 2015 from ‘very old Syrah' was peppery and perfumed with velvety tannins and intense finish.
Domaine de Bila-Haut (M. Chapoutier) ‘Les Vignes de Bila-Haut’ CRV 2015 (Syrah, Grenache and Carignan; no wood) - Lovely balance of sweet fruit, power and fresher bite. Their 2015 ‘L’Esquerda’ CRV Lesquerde was delicious too, peppery black cherry fruited and powerful.
Domaine de L’Ausseil ‘La Capitelle’ CRV Latour-de-France 2014 (old-vine block of Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre and sometimes Syrah) - Consistently good natural-leaning style, funky chunky and concentrated with chalky tannins; and the Merlot-based ‘P’Tit Piaf’ Côtes Catalanes 2016 was a tasty starter red with blackcurrant/cherry and savoury edges.
Domaine Jean Louis Tribouley ‘L’Alba’ Vin de France 2012 (70% Carignan with Grenache and Syrah, very long maceration) - Funky and meaty vs lush and concentrated, wilder side 'natural' red.
Domaine Rivaton ‘Vieilles Vignes’2012 (Carignan, Grenache and Syrah) - Quite smoky and wild but enticingly done with ripe yet savoury black olive notes. This red has become part of ‘Vieilles Bouilles’ Vin de France ‘natural’ wine with no added SO2.
Domaine de Sabbat ‘100% Grenache’ Côtes Catalanes - the structured 2015 was closed up when last tasted; previously, the serious meaty 2012 grabbed attention with its rich extracted style layered with savoury black olive.

Estagel & Montner
Domaine des Schistes ‘La Coumeille’ CRV 2016 (85% Syrah single site between Maury and Tautavel, aged twelve months in 500 litre barrels) - Concentrated, lush and robust with attractive tannin texture.
Domaine Gilles Troullier ‘Boréal’ Côtes Catalanes 2010 (tiny block of Syrah at 600 metres altitude) - Developed intriguing smoky savoury notes and complex rustic richness. And ‘L’Esprit du Temps’ 2013 (80+ year-old Grenache noir) had alluring varietal character with lush kirsch fruit.
Vignerons des Côtes d’Agly ‘Mont d’Estagel’ CRV 2015 (50% Syrah, 40% Mourvèdre and a splash of old-vine Carignan) - Attractive mix of fruit, tannin, oak and maturing rustic notes.

Espira de l’Agly & Cases-de-Pène
Domaine Piquemal ‘Galatée’ CRV 2016 (Grenache 75% with Syrah and Carignan) - Chunky Grenache-led style, powerful rich firm and concentrated.
Clos Serre Romani ‘Le Schiste’ CRV 2016 (60% Syrah, 40% Grenache, unoaked) - Peppery dark-fruited and elegant.
Domaine Gardiés ‘Les Millères’ CRV 2015 (40% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 20% Carignan, 5% Mourvèdre) - Deliciously rich, spicy and chunky. And the relatively new 100% Mourvèdre ‘Je Cherche le Ciel’ 2016 was firm and serious with textured tannins and tasty black olive/cherry fruit.
Mas Castello Domaine Cachau-Dubournais CRV (Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Grenache) - Tasty aromatic, spicy and tight in a more austere vintage such as 2014, or funkier, chunkier and more concentrated in a warm vintage like 2015.
Domaine des Balmettes ‘Les Amandiers’ 2013 - Wild, intense and dense Grenache noir sourced from a small block, which is whole-bunch fermented and not oaked.

Rivesaltes, Salses-Le-Château & Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque
Clos des Fées ‘Vieilles Vignes’ CRV 2013 (50-100 year-old Grenache/Lladoner Pelut (50%) with Carignan and Syrah) - The winery is now based in Rivesaltes but the vineyards are spread across a wide area from Vingrau to Maury: lush oak-textured red showing lovely dense fruit and tannins.
Domaine Cazes ‘Ego’ CRV 2015 (Grenache 60%, Syrah 30% and Mourvèdre) - Fleshy dark cherry fruit with weight and rounded structure.
Domaine de Rombeau ‘Elise’ CRV 2011 (80% Syrah, oak-aged) - Concentrated, chunky and fruity red.
Clos de la Bresse ‘La Bresse’ CRV 2016 - Good fruit with chunky mouth-feel and silky tannins.
Domaine Singla ‘El Serrat’ 2011 (80%+ Mourvèdre with Syrah) - Wild-edged and dense with textured tannins and savoury development, delicious black olive and liquorice too. And ‘Les Quatre Vents’ based on Carignan with ‘a hint of Grenache’ aged for two years in barriques, which absorbs the oak well adding lush texture to this concentrated cassis-tinged wine: 2013 and 2011 were both very good.
Domaine de Besombes Mas Saint-Michel ‘Esprit’ 2015 (Grenache and Syrah with a little Mourvèdre and Carignan) - Concentrated and weighty red; and ‘Les Fontenilles’ CRV 2015 and 2014 (Grenache & Syrah) - Peppery and structured, lightly coco-oaky when young turning dark fruited.

Caramany, Cassagnes & Bélesta
Vignerons de Caramany ‘Rouge Carmin Réserve’ CRV Caramany 2016 (unoaked Carignan, Syrah and Grenache) - Spicy and firm with enticing minty notes.
Domaine Modat ‘Sans plus attendre’ CRV Caramany 2015 (up to 70% Syrah with Grenache and Carignan, half of it spent ten months in barrel) - Rich and rustic with powerful finish gaining savoury notes and soft texture with bottle age. Their 'Le Petit Modamour' CdR 2018 is tasty too (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah): peppery smoky nose with cassis, black cherry and liquorice, quite soft mouth-feel although punchy (14% abv).
Château de Caladroy ‘Passion’ CRV 2016 - A spicy, rounded and elegant Syrah-led blend. And the more serious and structured ‘La Pierre Droite’ CRV 2014 (80% Mourvèdre with Syrah) - Dark, savoury and concentrated with subtle oak texture.
Clot de l’Oum - Usually a reliable favourite but... the ‘Gavatx’ CRV Caramany 2015 (predominantly Grenache) was intense, concentrated and spicy the first time it was sampled, yet the same vintage showed badly in a tasting a year later. Same goes for ‘La Compagnie des Papillons’: the 2015 was very tasty but 2016 was faulty. Their ‘Le Clot’ 2014 was delicious though: a plot-selection majority Syrah with pure varietal style, minty peppery dark cherry and lovely depth.
Vignoble Réveille ‘Elan’ 2015 (Grenache, Carignan and Syrah) - Funky concentrated and spicy balancing depth and elegance. And ‘Ultra Violet’ 2014 (100% Syrah, no sulphites added) was wild-edged and chunky with herbal minty spicy fruit.
Domaine Paetzold ‘Mastrio Carignan’ Côtes Catalanes 2015 - Silky textured with attractive sweet/sour blue fruit combo, almost Pinot Noir-esque in style. And ‘Nagello’ 2014 was a seductive ripe Syrah with dark spicy fruit and wild herb notes, smooth and rounded.

Calce & Baixas
Domaine Olivier Pithon ‘Cuvée Laïs’ rouge 2015 (unoaked Carignan, Grenache and Mourvèdre) - Quite structured and funky although had good depth. And his ‘Le Colt’ 2014 (parcel of Grenache, 18 months in cask) had perfumed spicy fruit, taut tannins and weight with attractive savoury finish.
Vignobles Dom Brial ‘Mirade’ CRV 2014 (60% Syrah with Grenache and Mourvèdre, unoaked) - Fairly concentrated with tasty dark berry fruit. The ‘Crest Petit’ 2012 single-site project red is worth a mention too.

Corneilla de la Rivière
Domaine Boucabeille ‘Les Terrasses de Régis Boucabeille’ CRV 2016 (unoaked Grenache and Syrah, about 50-50) - Lovely minty style with black cherry and chalky tannins; and the more powerful structured but well-textured ‘Monte Nero’ CRV 2015 (40% Syrah with Grenache and Mourvèdre).

There are another 15 top Maury sec reds (vintages 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013) recommended in this piece: Grenache/Garnacha: Australia, Roussillon, Catalonia including Domaine de la Préceptorie, Domaine Dernier Bastion, Domaine Cazes, Les Vignerons de Tautavel-Vingrau, Domaine FontanelDomaine des Soulanes, Mas Amiel (a few different wines), Domaine Pouderoux and Château Saint-Roch.

Wineries with vineyards in the northern Roussillon but based in the Aude:
Domaine Jones Rouge Grenache noir 2015 (old Grenache from Maury, sometimes with a splash of Carignan) - This concentrated red has been perfected over the years: firmly structured when young but developing tasty liquorice and cherry fruit.
Les Clos Perdus ‘Extreme’ rouge Côtes Catalanes 2013 (75% Lladoner Pelut and Syrah with low sulphites, oak-aged) - Very concentrated with dark spicy fruit; the 2014 was very good too, tighter and more elegant.

Centre & East

(CdR = Côtes du Roussillon)
Perpignan, Canet en Roussillon & Saleilles
Domaine Lafage ‘Cuvée Léa’ CRV Les Aspres 2015 and 2016 (low-yielding Grenache, Carignan and Syrah grown at altitude, barrique-aged) - Ripe spicy concentrated fruit, sometimes with smoky tobacco notes and silky texture, sometimes with tighter firmer finish. The 100% Grenache 'Nicolas' Côtes Catalanes 2015 was also delicious; and it's worth mentioning their icon label ‘Les Onze Terrasses’ from the Aspres high-ground: latest vintage tasted was the immense, structured and savoury-edged 2011 showing great promise (and suitably expensive).
Domaine Rousdellaro ‘Tanawa’ 2017 (Grenache 65%, Syrah 35%, unoaked) - Fuller, richer and spicier than one of their other reds.
Château de Rey ‘Mine de Rey’ CdR 2016 - Tasty limited edition Mourvèdre-dominant red.
Mas Baux ‘Mataro Boy’ 2016 - Concentrated black-olive-tinged 100% Mourvèdre; and ‘Velours’ 2016 was a lovely spicy fruity mix of Grenache and Syrah.
Les Vignobles du Soleil 'B' CdR 2016 (majority Syrah) - And it shows but in the most attractive way: concentrated with black cherry fruit and minty edges, nice ripe tannins.

Pollestres, Villeneuve de la Raho, Corneilla del Vercol & Montescot
Château Cap de Fouste ‘Tradition’ CdR 2016 - Quite concentrated with fruity spicy profile and rounded tannins,
Domaine C&D Deneufbourg Marselan Côtes Catalanes 2015 - Firm, meaty and spicy, quite a big wine.
Château Corneilla Jonquères d’Oriola ‘Cavalcade’ Les Aspres 2014 (Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre; eight months in barrel) - Classy concentrated red with good balance of oak, supple tannins and depth, although the 2015 didn’t show well in a later blind tasting.
Château de l’Ou ‘Ipsou Facto’ 2015 - Very good special selection Syrah reflecting the best grapes from across their vineyards: rich toasty and extracted, solid and dense but with great tannins and lovely Syrah fruit, it needed time. And ‘L’Ove’ (also Côtes Catalanes) 2015 was a tasty unoaked spicy pure Syrah style too.

Le Soler, Thuir, Camélas, Terrats, Trouillas & Ponteilla
Domaine de la Perdrix ‘Pour Ceux qui Rêvent le Jour’ CdR 2017 (Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah) - Offers attractive fruit, soft mouth-feel and tasty finish. Their 2016 ‘Joseph Sébastien Pons’ red was rated too.
Domaine Treloar ‘Motus’ CdR 2015 (80% or more Mourvèdre with Syrah or sometimes Grenache, like the epic 2010, 2011 and 2013 vintages; matured for two years in a mix of new and used barrels, some American oak) - This slightly feral Bandol-esque red and is rich, meaty and textured, dense palate showing ageing promise. Their consistently good ‘Three Peaks’ CdR is also recommended (2015); and top-of-the-range ‘Tahi’ (selected Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache aged in 50% new French oak): the delicious 2011 was very concentrated yet well-balanced with savoury smoky and minty tones.
Domaine de la Meunerie CdR ‘Caruso’ 2016 and ‘Réminiscence’ 2016 - The pure-fruited peppery and powerful ‘Caruso’ was 50%+ Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan that undergoes five months’ cask-ageing. And ‘Réminiscence’ was a more concentrated and extracted majority Syrah with Mourvèdre, showing lovely minty black fruits and hints of dark chocolate (similar oak regime to the other).
Domaine La Casenove ‘La Colomina’ CdR 2016 (50% Carignan, 25% Syrah, 20% Grenache and Mourvèdre) - Blueberry and liquorice notes with a touch of grip, good depth of sweet fruit and a subtler fresher side.
Les Vignobles du Terrassous ‘Villaré Juliani’ Côtes du Roussillon 2016 (Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre; no oak ageing) - Minty black cherry and liquorice fruit, ripe and juicy with structured tannins. Their top red ‘Les Pierres Plates’ CRV Les Aspres 2015 was another SGM: smoky and savoury after a few years in bottle with big spicy finish (the 2013 was tasty too).
Domaine Ferrer-Ribière - Two 2015s both called ‘Empreinte du Temps’: Carignan (made from 138 year-old vines, fermented in egg-shaped vats) was a lovely intense and aromatic wine; and a varietal Mourvèdre with firm yet rounded tannins and great depth of peppery black olive fruit.
Château Lauriga ‘Grande Réserve’ CdR 2016 (60% Syrah, 30% Carignan, 10% Grenache) - Mixes light oak with sweet fruit and rounded tannins, developing savoury tones on the finish.
Domaine de l’Architecte 'Earth' CdR 2015 - Structured with enticing maturing fruit with herby berry edges.
Château Las Collas ‘1924 Carignan’ Vin de France 2015 - Presumably the vines’ age: oaky when young but concentrated, fresh blue fruits and elegance despite its power.
Château Nadal Hainaut ‘Signum’ CdR 2015 (Syrah 70% and Grenache) - Big minty fruit and alcohol, a good wine even if a little over the top.
Domaine Bellavista ‘Roméo’ Côtes Catalanes 2016 - A lively dark and spicy Syrah made without added SO2; and the delicious ‘Réserve d’Ava’ CdR 2015 (Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre; half aged in barrels) was more concentrated, meaty and fruity with rounded tannins.
Mas Bécha ‘Excellence Rouge, Charles’ CRV Les Aspres 2016 - Another tasty concentrated ‘SGM’ but with 80% Syrah this time with lush black cherry fruit and appealing chalky tannins.

Passa, Tresserre & Banyuls dels Aspres
Domaine Vaquer ‘L’Exception’ CRV Les Aspres 2014 & 2015 (mostly old Grenache and a quarter each Carignan and Syrah; aged in used casks) - Wild-edged and chunky with berry fruits.
Domaine Trilles ‘Pedra Lluna’ Les Aspres 2015 - Excellent example from this subzone based on majority Mourvèdre with Syrah aged for 12 months in oak: powerful and rich, firm when young yet well-textured with wild berry and black olive flavours. And ‘Calignan’ Côtes Catalanes 2016 was a quirky star shaped by 100+ year-old Carignan but not using carbonic maceration (the ‘norm’ if there is one): intense powerful yet ripe and aromatic showing what can be done with this variety.
Château Montana ‘Silencio’ CRV Les Aspres 2015 (Syrah aged 12 months in barrel with Carignan and Grenache) - Oak-grained red but with good depth and fruit, although quite dear.


Château Valmy ‘Premier de Valmy’ Côtes Catalanes 2015 (SGM blend aged 12 to 14 months in new casks) - Coco-oaky smoky on the nose but is lush concentrated with savoury edges and balanced overall.
Mas Cristine CdR rouge (50% Syrah, 38% Grenache, 12% Carignan with the Syrah spending time in barrel ‘but no new oak.’) - Typically ripe, fruity and concentrated with silky tannins like the attractive 2015, although the 2016 was rather austere.

Collioure & Banyuls-sur-mer
Domaine Madeloc ‘Magenca’ Collioure 2016 (Grenache with 20% Carignan, both from 100 year-old vines, and 20% Mourvèdre, matured for 18 months in wood) - Lush concentrated minty kirsch fruit, impressive and structured yet still juicy and elegant.
Terrimbo Collioure 2016 (Grenache and Syrah, barrel aged) - Set up by Philippe Gard of Coume del Mas and Tramontane Wines with Jacky Loos sourced from an organic block: an earthy rich rounded red (there's a full-on rosé too).
Coume del Mas ‘Schistes’ 2015 and ‘Quadratur’ 2015 (both Collioure AOP) - The former is mostly old vine Grenache from coastal vineyards fermented and stored in stainless vats: pure kirsch, liquorice and pepper aromas with lush soft palate and bitter twist. The latter is 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre and 20% 'very old-vine' Carignan that spends 12 to 14 months in barrel: firm solid red with grainy texture layered with spicy fruit, needing a couple of years to open up. But the 2016s of ‘Schistes’ and ‘Quadratur’ both came across as over-extracted and not so charming in a more recent line-up tasting.
Domaine La Tour Vieille Collioure ‘Puig Oriol’ 2016 (selected Syrah 70% with Grenache 25% plus some Carignan sourced from this named site) - One of two delicious 2016s (‘La Pinède’ is the other) that shows peppery herbal notes with juicy blackberry-cherry then some delicious sweet Grenache liquorice fruit comes through, tight well-textured tannins.
Domaine Piétri-Géraud ‘Le Moulin de la Cortine’ Collioure 2013 (majority Syrah with Grenache and Mourvèdre, un-oaked) - Fragrant, ripe and spicy with weighty palate. I wasn't keen on a couple of their 2015 and 2016 reds though.
Cave de L’Etoile Collioure ‘Le Clos du Fourat’ 2016 (50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and Mourvèdre, twelve months’ barrel-ageing) - Peppery notes with aromatic liquorice fruit, rounded oak-tinged palate with attractive tannins and dark fruit. Their 2016 ‘Montagne’ GSM was also good.
Domaine Clos Saint-Sébastien Collioure ‘Inspiration ‘Marine’ 2016 (90% coastal Mourvèdre, one year in large casks) - Aromatic elegant and intriguing with refined tannins. The 2016 and 2015 ‘Céleste’ (mostly Grenache + Carignan) were also highly recommended.
Domaine Augustin Collioure (old vine Grenache and Carignan) - Can be lightly rustic and well-balanced, although the 2015 was somewhat grainy and solid at first.
Domaine de la Rectorie ‘Barlande’ Collioure 2016 (old-vine Grenache and Carignan from this single plot) - Tasty new-ish red forming a pair with a classy white. Their 'entry-level' ‘Côté Mer’ 2015 (Syrah 50%, Grenache 40% and Carignan) was good too: chunky and funky with lots of black cherry fruit.
Domaine Vial-Magnères ‘Les Espérades’ Collioure 2014 (two-thirds Grenache with Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre; 18 months in cask) - Mixes up background oak with dark berry fruits and savoury hints.
Domaine Pic Joan Collioure (Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre) - The 2014 was serious, powerful and concentrated; the 2016 showed as a little oaky when young.
Domaine du Traginer Collioure ‘Cuvée Capatas’ 2014 (50% Syrah with the three other varieties) - Dark chocolate and solid palate when young with black fruits and olive, turning meaty with age. The very concentrated 2014 was the first vintage this wine was made without added sulphites.
Domaine de la Casa Blanca ‘Calells’ Collioure 2015 (Grenache dominant with Syrah) - Funkier than their other red yet more complex, concentrated and structured with dark vs crunchy fruit.


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