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17 November 2023

Roussillon: Les Aspres, the centre and beyond.

Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, central Roussillon.

Côtes du Roussillon Villages and Les Aspres, Côtes du Roussillon, Côtes Catalanes and Rivesaltes VDNs.
Talking of the Aspres and neighbouring areas in central and eastern Roussillon, barrels full of heartfelt empathy go out to those winegrowers who had the very bad luck of being hit by a freak storm just before some remaining black grapes were due to be picked this vintage. One night of terrible wind and rain after months of drought with virtually no rainfall, which had already made things difficult and reduced the crop.
However, the fruit that did make it to the winery in one piece was generally of very good quality although considerably less of it than 'usual' (there's nothing much usual anymore from one vintage to the next). Must have been soul-destroying for those affected to lose near-ripe grapes after so much hard work throughout the challenging growing season.
You could do worse and buy their wines to help! Here are 33 recommendations starting with...


Clos Cérianne Secret Partagé 2020 Côtes du Roussillon: 80% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, 10% Grenache. Well-textured red with chunky tannins and smoky fruit, concentrated too. €24 France, Belgium.
Domaines Paul Mas
Château Lauriga Le Cadet 2021 Côtes du Roussillon (13.5% abv): 70% Syrah, 20% Carignan, 10% Grenache (no oak). Attractive and aromatic Syrah-led style with vibrant spicy black cherry fruit and soft tannins. €9-€12 France, Netherlands, Italy. Also: UK, Japan, USA.
Château Lauriga Cuvée Jean Grande Réserve 2020 Côtes du Roussillon: 60% Syrah, 30% Carignan, 10% Grenache; 12 months in oak. More structured and textured with firmer mouthfeel and similarly tasty fruit. €13-€16 France, Belgium, Netherlands, $38 Canada & US, £18-£23 UK, Poland 99 zł.

Domaine Château Castelnou Cuvée Héritage 2021 Côtes du Roussillon: 55% Syrah, 45% Carignan. Lots of lovely gluggable fruit. €12 France.
Domaine La Casenove La Colomina 2019 Côtes du Roussillon, Etienne and Frédérique Montès: 45% Carignan, 45% Syrah, 10% Grenache (no oak). Juicy blueberry and cherry fruit with chalky lightly grippy tannins, good value. €10 France & Germany, 135Kr Denmark, USA.
Domaine Treloar Motus 2019 Côtes du Roussillon: 65% Mourvèdre (barrel aged), 30% Syrah, 5% Grenache. Wild edged and savoury nose, concentrated with quite firm yet well-textured tannins, long tasty finish. Very good. €15-€16 France & Belgium, €17-€20 Germany & Austria; £17-£19 UK, Poland, US: Vintage 59.
Domaine Trilles Pedra Lluna 2019 Côtes du Roussillon: 90% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah aged in 500 litre barrels. Aromatic ripe dark cherry fruit with appealing spicy and savoury notes, structured yet maturing palate. Also rather nice. €16.20 France. £22 UK. SEK265 Sweden.
Domaine 3 Orris Horizon 2018 Côtes du Roussillon: 50% Carignan, 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah, cask aged. Hints of oak and tannin in the background, but it's developed very nicely with savoury fruit flavours. €17-€18 France.
Domaine F. Jaubert
Carmín 2019 Côtes du Roussillon (14.5% abv): Mostly Carignan with Grenache and Syrah, no oak. Very nice aromatic yet mature fruit with a touch of freshness to finish. €12 France.
Hexaplex Trunculus 2018 Côtes du Roussillon (15% abv): 40% Grenache Noir, 40% Syrah, 20% Carignan; 20 months in cask. Maturing rustic edges, attractive softening tannins with good length and lingering meaty flavours. Tasty. €20 France. Francois Jaubert in the field:

Domaine Treloar Three Peaks 2018 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (14% abv): Syrah 65%, Grenache 30%, Mourvèdre 5%; 20% of the blend aged in barrels for 12 months. €12-€13.50 France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium; £14-£15 UK, 65zł Poland, USA: Vintage59, $32-$33 CA/NZ. Mature and savoury with a touch of tannin, lingering meaty fruit and length. Good although I slightly preferred the Motus above.
Domaine Vaquer Cuvée 30 Ans 2020 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Aspres: 55% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 5% Carignan; aged in tank and barriques for 20 months. Rich and smoky with savoury edges and a touch of oak, concentrated and solid with quite firm tannins, balanced and subtle though needing a few more years to develop. €30 France, Germany, Belgium; US importer: Kermit Lynch?
Jonquères d'Oriola Vignobles Château de Corneilla Cavalcade 2019 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Aspres (14% abv): 50% Syrah, 25% Grenache Noir, 25% Mourvèdre; matured in 500L French oak for 12 months. Enticing ripe fruit, still fairly structured mouthfeel but rounder tannins than most of the 2019s. Another good one. €16 France. £13.50-£15.50 UK. €19.95 Ireland. €17.95 Germany. $40-$45 US / CA. 160-180 DK.
Vignobles Terrassous Summum 2017 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Aspres (15% abv): 35% Syrah, 25% Grenache Noir, 30% Mourvèdre, 10% Carignan; 18 months in barrels. Complex minty and wilder notes, savoury maturing palate and flavours, still firm but nicely textured. Good stuff. €27.75 France.
Vignobles Terrassous Les Pierres Plates 2020 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Aspres (14.5% abv): Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Hints of oak (aged in mostly used barrels) but has pleasing texture and good depth of fruit; tasty red. €11.33 France.
Château Planères Prestige 2019 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Aspres (14% abv): Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah. Firm and structured but with plenty of fruit, good tannins for the sometimes austere 2019s. €13-€15 France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany.
Charles Perez Patterns 2020 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Aspres (15% abv): 80% Grenache Noir, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre; lees-stirring and 12 months in new barriques. Less oaky than some of his other dear reds with tasty Grenache fruit underneath. France €66 per bottle? (Surely not.)

Maison Albera
Altitude 529m Le Pelut 2021 Côtes Catalanes (13.5% abv): 100% Lledoner Pelut, an old Roussillon variety related to Grenache. Lightly wild edged, intense blue fruits yet subtle at the same time, surprisingly fresh acidity but it works in this unusual red. France €10.80.
Altitude 525m Carignan Noir 2020 Côtes Catalanes (14% abv): Late picked from 'very old vines'. Also surprising for its elegant palate and texture, despite having some weight too, and enticing fragrant red/blue fruits.


Domaine F. Jaubert
Orus 2019 Côtes du Roussillon (14% abv): Grenache blanc and Grenache gris. Nutty yeast-lees richness while surprisingly tight and fresh on the finish. €12 France.
Clos Cérianne Anfora 2021 Côtes Catalanes (14.5% abv): 80% Carignan Blanc, 20% Grenache Blanc, fermented / matured in ceramic amphorae. Elegant dry white with zesty mineral tones and nutty edges. €18 France. Winemaker Laurianne Tournier above.
Domaine Trilles Les Calçades 2022 Côtes Catalanes: 60% Rolle, 40% Roussanne, aged in barrel and tank. Nutty and intense dry white, wow. €15.40 France. US importer: Direct Wine Imports.
Jonquères d'Oriola Vignobles Château de Corneilla Cavalcade 2022 Côtes du Roussillon: 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Macabeu, 20% Vermentino, six months' ageing on lees in 500L casks. Successful combo of light coconut oak, aromatic and yeasty notes, quite rich fruit and fresh-ish finish; well-made white as always. €13-€15 France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands. £12 UK.

Maison Albera
Emoció N°4 Grenache Blanc 2021 Côtes Catalanes (13% abv): Honeyed and yeast-lees on the nose, weighty vs fresh palate, very appealing. Solar energy generated in this vineyard powered the wine's production. €15-€16 France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany.
Altitude 547m Carignan Gris 2021 Côtes Catalanes (12.5% abv): A bit different, zesty nutty mineral white from an elevated hillside site. Quite dear although somewhat rare: €22 France.
Altitude 503m Chardonnay 2022 Côtes Catalanes (12.5% abv): Claims to be "the highest Chardonnay in the south." And indeed, it's a very nice southern French Chablis-type wine, subtle and stylish. France €10.80.
Le Cépage Prohibé 530m 2022 Côtes Catalanes (11.5% abv): Made from 100% Vermentino (also planted high up), the name is a little dig at the Italians who've managed to force all other European growers to call this lovely Med variety Rolle (as they always have done in Provence by the way) or another synonym. What was that about not allowing anti-competitive behaviour in the EU market?! Anyway, a delightfully fresh aromatic and lees-y white, light and very tasty. €12.50 France.

Domaine Vaquer Esquisse 2022 Côtes du Roussillon: 40% Roussanne, 40% Macabeu, 20% Grenache Gris and Blanc, left on the fine lees until March. Banana aromas, quite rich nutty and intense, very crisp long finish, should age nicely. €14-€18 France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands. £24 UK. USA: Kermit Lynch. Frédérique Vaquer above.
Château de Rey Les Galets Roulés 2022 Côtes du Roussillon: Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Grenache Gris; fermented in 400L barrels and left for 6 months before bottling. Fairly classy, aromatic but a bit closed up at first, should develop nicely. €18-€19.50 France, Germany, Belgium.
Terrassous Les Pierres Plates blanc 2021 Côtes du Roussillon (14% abv): 53% Grenache Blanc, 32% Macabeu, 15% Vermentino; fermentation in cask at low temperature and lees-stirring for 5 months. Grapefruit notes mix with rich oily almost botrytis like fruit, powerful yet zesty and nutty too. Good. €10 France.

ROSÉ - Read this previous feature to discover a few exciting rosés from the central Roussillon:


Terrassous Rivesaltes Ambré Hors d'Age 18 Ans: 50% Grenache Blanc, 50% Grenache Gris; part-fermented in cask and fortified, long cask-ageing. Rich nose of baked walnuts with hints of old Oloroso, sweet but very complex palate, a complete wow wine. France €27-€29. $45-$50 US.
Domaine Vaquer Rivesaltes Hors d'Age Ambré 'Solera depuis 30 ans': 70% Grenache Gris and Blanc, 30% Macabeu. Made by solera type ageing but in concrete vats, the 'base wine' in vat is at least 35 years old and has been 'refreshed' over the last 30 years with a fraction of younger wine each time they bottle some. Another extraordinary beautiful old Ambré, hard to describe and rate it in a few words, it's so unusual and brilliant. France €30-€32.
Château de Rey 'Chouchou' Rivesaltes Tuilé 2016: 100% Grenache Noir. Maturing well with toffee-d red fruits, turning reddish-brown, very good. €16-€20 France, Belgium.

Other recent Roussillon stuff: Maury area, the north continued, the south and rosé.

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