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21 August 2022

Roussillon: 36 whites and rosés worthy of your fridge (but not at the same time).

Hot on the heels of two pieces showcasing 40+ stonking reds from the North and the Centre & South of the Roussillon, it's time to switch the limelight onto some of the region's flavoursome white and rosé wines. There's a blurb about the wineries mentioned here in those two previous posts: tap the links to discover more including which outlets stock their wines. So this time then, less blah blah and more wine. Photo: old vines in Les Aspres zone.
But! I will add: much as I like Roussillon white wines based on local (or Catalan/Aragon) varieties such as the 'white' Grenache family (Gris and Blanc), you may be surprised how many very good Chardonnays are now coming out of the region. I'd noticed this before on my travels, but there were a few delicious examples at the tasting (London in June). Roussillon winemakers are also doing a commendable job with the Muscat grape made in an aromatic dry style, or blended with other varieties e.g. Viognier.
And on the (proper) rosé front, IMHO the Roussillon is still leading the way with France's best dry Mediterranean rosés, more in common with north-eastern Spain than Provence (yawn) even if some are similarly expensive to the latter, e.g. Collioure.


Muscat (and blends)

Château Nadal Hainaut
Alexandrie 2021 Côtes Catalanes IGP (12.5% abv): Nice dry Muscat, aromatic zesty and lively without the bitterness you sometimes get with this style (usually down to too much skin contact and/or picked too early). €9.90 (cellar door); €11.90 Germany; €21.50 Finland.
Dom Brial
Muscat de Rivesaltes 2021 (15.5% abv): 50-50 Muscat Petits Grains and Alexandrian, 110 grams per litre residual sugar. Classic sweet Muscat Vin Doux Naturel or VDN: fortified after fermenting briefly to leave natural grape sugars in the finished wine. Deliciously fresh and aromatic with lush sweet finish but well-balanced. France €9.95; £15.95 UK; €11.80 Belgium.
Domaine Treloar
One Block Muscat 2020 Côtes Catalanes (13.5% abv): Aromatic and crisp while appealingly rounded too, dry 'mineral' finish with nutty tones. A bit different for a dry Muscat. France €10; UK £13.50.
Jonquères d'Oriola Vignobles
Domaine du Paradis, L'Infini Moelleux 2021 Côtes Catalanes (12.5% abv): Muscat d'Alexandrie, 'picked a little earlier' than grapes for their Muscat de Rivesaltes giving a lighter sweet Muscat style, attractive dessert wine for those who don't like really lush sweet wines (28 grams per litre residual sugar).
Domaine Cazes
Le Canon du Maréchal Blanc 2021 Côtes Catalanes (13.5% abv): 50-50 Muscat-Viognier. Very nice aromatic crisp yet still quite full-bodied dry white, so consistent over the years. Tasted just as I remember it when I used to buy it in Roussillon supermarkets, and any vintage tried since. France €8.90; €9.50-€10.50 Germany and Netherlands; Canada $18.35.

Catalan (and southern French / Mediterranean) varieties

Dom Brial
Les Petits Pins 2021 Côtes du Roussillon blanc (13% abv): 50% Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Malvoisie; short barrel-fermentation with lees-stirring for three months. Quite intense and 'mineral' to start, developing apricot fruit with yeast-lees undertones, very good. €9.40
Château Nadal Hainaut
3 Sources blanc 2021 Côtes Catalanes (13% abv): 100% Macabeu, unoaked. Juicy crisp and zesty with aromatic gooseberry-like fruit, tasty and refreshing. France €9.90; 110KR Denmark; €21.50 Finland.
Domaine de Bila-Haut
Bila-Haut 2021 Côtes du Roussillon blanc (13% abv): Grenache blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne and Macabeu (no oak) including some fruit sourced from Dom Brial growers, I was told. Nutty and crisp, quite light and tasty finish, attractive style dry white. France €8.51; UK £10-£11.50.
Occultum Lapidem 2018 Côtes du Roussillon blanc (13.5% abv): Grenache blanc, Grenache gris and Vermentino; 30% of it cask-fermented and -aged for 9 months with lees stirring. Mature nose with enticing nutty oxidising notes, concentrated peachy fruit leads to a nice tangy finish; very good. France €15; UK £16.99; Hong Kong HK$300.
Chrysopée Sélection Parcellaire 2018 Collioure blanc (13% abv): 90% Grenache gris and 10% Grenache blanc; all cask-fermented and -aged for 6 months with lees stirring. Complex maturing nose, fairly toasty still but it's rich and flavoursome; compelling white although expensive. France and Germany €54; UK £43.50.
Domaine des Soulanes
Vieilles Vignes blanc 2021 Côtes Catalanes (14% abv): 50% Grenache gris, 50% Carignan blanc. Juicy and nutty to start, concentrated tasty full-bodied white with enticing wilder edges, powerful yet crisp finish; delicious, one of the best whites at the tasting. France €19-€21.50; UK £25; US $30.
Domaine Singla
La Coste 2020 Côtes du Roussillon blanc: Macabeu and Roussanne. Quite floral, rich and concentrated with maturing oily texture, tasty dry finish. €12 France and Belgium.
Domaine Vial-Magnères
Le Petit Couscouril 2021 Collioure blanc (13.5% abv): 90% Grenache blanc, 10% Vermentino, no oak. Honeyed and white peach notes, nutty crisp and lees-y palate with tasty 'mineral' finish. France €14; €15.50 Germany; Switzerland CHF16.
Jonquères d'Oriola Vignobles
Château de Corneilla Cavalcade 2021 Côtes du Roussillon blanc (13% abv): Grenache blanc, Macabeu and Vermentino from their vineyard in Les Aspres; barrel-fermented and -aged for 6 months on the lees. A richer more concentrated wine than their Héritage white (which is nice enough) with enticing buttery texture and flavours, very good. €13-€14 France and Germany.
Domaine of the Bee
Field of the Bee 2021 Côtes Catalanes (13% abv): old vine Grenache gris and Grenache blanc 'with a little bit of Roussanne'; 20% of it aged in barrel for 4 months. Aromatic nose with yeast-lees tones, followed by honeysuckle white peach and pink grapefruit, zingy and intense with fresh crisp finish; flavoursome dry white with zesty acidity, the light oak treatment is hardly noticeable. It developed richer apricot fruit on top of that tight 'mineral' backdrop; quite different from the 2020 vintage. UK £13.20-£18.50, £37 BIB (2.25L).
Les Terrasses de l'Arago
Elecció 2020 Côtes du Roussillon blanc (12.5% abv): Grenache blanc and Roussanne. Nutty lightly oxidised nose, elegant and crisp palate, quite complex and tasty white. €11.90
Les Clos de Paulilles
- Domaine Cazes
Collioure blanc 2021 (14% abv): Grenache blanc and gris, no oak, 6 months' lees-ageing. Zesty juicy lees-y nose and palate, intense concentrated and powerful mouthfeel while fresh crisp and 'salty'; class white, one of the best at the tasting (although you get what you pay for): France €18; UK £23-£26; €19.50-€22 Netherlands.
Mas Bécha
Classique Blanc 2021 Côtes du Roussillon (13.5% abv): 60% Grenache blanc and 40% Vermentino; lees stirring and ageing. Clean crisp and 'mineral' style, a little closed up when I tried it but should develop into something more interesting. France €10; NI £15; Switzerland CHF16.90.
Mas de la Devèze
Malice Blanc 2021 Côtes du Roussillon (13% abv): 75% Macabeu, 20% Grenache blanc, 5% Grenache gris; cold-macerated for 36 hours on skins, no oak. Crisp and 'mineral' with floral and yeast-lees notes, tasty zesty finish; very nice. €10, €26 5L BIB.
Macabeu 2021 Côtes Catalanes (12.5% abv): 100% Macabeu selected from one particular block; same winemaking as above. Very aromatic with steely 'mineral' styling, subtle concentration though with lovely elegant finish. Fair class for €11.
Res Fortes
2019 Côtes du Roussillon blanc (13.5% abv): 60% Macabeu, 20% Grenache blanc, 20% Grenache gris (40 year-old vines); no oak. Fairly rich and oily texture yet still aromatic and crisp, very attractive mature white wine. UK £15-£16; EU €12.
Le Soula
Soula Blanc 2015 Côtes Catalanes (13.5% abv): 49% Sauvignon blanc, 23% Rolle (= Vermentino), 14% Grenache blanc, 12% Macabeu; 2% Grenache gris, Malvoisie du Roussillon, Marsanne and Roussanne. Nutty and cidery nose, very intense and 'mineral' palate; tasty 'natural' wine (and dear): UK: £30-£35 Tanners, Berry Bros, Uncorked and several other independents.
La Macération du Soula No.19 (13% abv): mixed-vintage (2019 to 2014) blend of Vermentino, Macabeu, Malvoisie du Roussillon and Sauvignon Blanc; macerated for 12 days with the skins. Very appealing and aromatic 'orangey' wine, again has tasty intense mouth-feel and bite. Not for the fainthearted! UK: £30-£35 Fortnum & Mason, Uncorked, Vincognito, Harrogate Fine Wine, Shrine to the Vine.


Château Nadal Hainaut
Cuvée Marie 2021 Côtes Catalanes (13% abv): 100% Chardonnay, barrel fermented with lees stirring and 3 months' ageing. Showing a touch of oak but it's appealingly creamy with sweet citrus fruit. Good. €11.50-€14 France; 135KR Denmark; €27.50 Finland.
Jonquères d'Oriola Vignobles
Domaine du Paradis, L'Infini Chardonnay 2021 Côtes Catalanes (12.5% abv): 100% Chardy with 'a bit of batonnage' during winemaking, resulting in a juicy fruity wine with lightly creamy texture and flavour, nice style and good value. France and Belgium €7.50; DKK 70-100.
Les Terrasses de l'Arago
Chardonnay de nos Nuits 2020 Côtes Catalanes (13% abv): 100% Chardonnay, aged on the yeast-lees. Just a hint of toast (?) but it's nicely juicy and creamy too, fairly concentrated tasty wine with lingering fruit and zesty lees notes. France €11.90; Singapore $58.
Arnaud de Villeneuve
Chardonnay Classic 2021 (13.5% abv): Delicious style well-made Chardy mixing juicy and buttery textures / flavours and crisp yet weighty mouthfeel. Another good one and a bargain too, in France at least: €5-€6.

ROSÉS - Mediterranean / Rhone Valley varieties.

Dom Brial
Les Petits Pins 2021 Côtes du Roussillon rosé (13.5% abv): 70% Grenache noir, 30% Syrah. Lovely Roussillon rosé styling, creamy and fruity vs full-bodied and dry. France €9.50; Singapore $24.90 SGD.
Domaine des Soulanes
Côtes du Roussillon rosé 2021 (12% abv): 50% Carignan, 20% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache and 10% Syrah. Yeast-lees notes lightly layered with red fruit flavours, crisp and refreshing mouthful, elegant yet fruity rosé. France €7.60 (image from cave-gustumo.com); UK £12.59-£13.99.
Domaine Vial-Magnères
Le Petit Couscouril 2021 Collioure rosé (13.5% abv): Mostly Grenache with Carignan and Syrah, no oak. Very fruity and creamy rosé, good depth and weight on the palate while zingy and lingering; classic Collioure. France €14; Switzerland CHF16; Germany €15.50; Denmark Kr149.
Domaine of the Bee
Bee Pink 2021 Côtes du Roussillon (12.5% abv): 60% Grenache noir, 20% Grenache gris and 20% Syrah. Floral red fruits and roses, lightly creamy summer fruits with almond hints and crisp refreshing finish; nice rosé although not really exciting enough for the money (the 2020 was better). UK £12 (member price) to £17.50, £35 2.25L BIB.
Les Terrasses de l'Arago
Elecció 2020 Côtes du Roussillon rosé (12% abv): Grenache and Syrah. It was rather cold and unrevealing when first tasted but offered an appealing style of dry rosé balancing rounded mouth-feel and crisp bite. €11.90
Arnaud de Villeneuve
Stellaire 2021 Côtes Catalanes rosé (13% abv): 100% Grenache Gris unusually. Really tasty refreshing rosé with plenty of red fruits and yeast-lees bite, good foodie style. France €9; Poland 69zł.
Mas Bécha
Classique Rosé 2021 Côtes du Roussillon (13.5% abv): 60% Syrah, 40% Grenache; part barrel-fermented. Enticingly juicy fruity and creamy rosé, tasty with fairly full rounded finish. France €10; NI £15.
Mas de la Devèze
Malice Rosé 2021 Côtes du Roussillon (13.5% abv): 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah, 48 hours' maceration on skins. Aromatic nose with yeast lees edges, fresh red fruit palate, quite intense and tasty finish. Good. France €10 or €26 5L BIB; Netherlands €11.75.
Res Fortes
2021 Côtes du Roussillon rosé (13.5% abv): 50% Grenache noir, 30% Syrah, 20% Grenache gris (whole bunches pressed together, finished in barrel). Powerful fruity wine with well-balanced crisp while rounded profile, very nice rosé and quite 'serious' too. UK £15-£16; US $16.99; EU €12.
Coming soon, part 4 of my recent Roussillon review: Vins Doux Naturels (fortified wines) from Rivesaltes (ambré, red), Maury and Banyuls (white and red) in various styles.

You can read much more about these producers, the vineyards and wine regions as well as places to visit in my book on the Roussillon available from Amazon Barnes & Noble or direct the author (tap for details).

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