"Order my book on the Roussillon wine region (colour paperback) DIRECT FROM ME SAVING £4/€4 (UK & EU only), or Kindle eBook on Amazon UK. Available in the USA from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook; or Amazon.com. For other countries, tap here." Richard Mark James
Showing posts with label Côtes Catalanes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Côtes Catalanes. Show all posts

27 November 2023

Roussillon: the north continued.

Overlooking a vineyard, Cases-de-Pène Agly Valley.

Continuing this year's series of tasting and touring articles on the Roussillon, this time we're heading back north to the Agly Valley to supplement a previous piece on the Maury area, as well as one focused on winemakers in central Roussillon (Les Aspres and either side) and one celebrating the region's rosé wines (compared to Languedoc). Meaning there'll be one more report picking favourites from the south (Collioure, Banyuls and neighbouring Côtes du Roussillon and Côtes Catalanes wines).

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.

09 August 2023

Roussillon: Maury focus - red and fortified wines.

There's no shortage of awesome chunky vineyard vistas like in the photo above around the town of Maury, dramatically and strategically positioned in the (west-) centre of the Agly Valley in the northern Roussillon, piled up against the Corbières hills facing north, down towards the Pyrenees to the southwest and Spain/Catalonia in the sun-kissed distance to the south.

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.

01 August 2022

Roussillon - the south & centre: 16 reds to knock your socks off (part 2).

These plush reds represent more of my favourites from a recent Wines of Roussillon tasting in London (part 1: the north, is here). Featuring wines from 2019, 2020 and 2021 plus some more mature or rarer vintages produced by various wineries in the centre and south of the Roussillon, aka 'French Catalonia, wild wine country' as in the title of my book.

08 July 2022

Roussillon - the north: 27 reds to knock your socks off (part 1).

This spicy variety of reds features some of my top picks from a Wines of Roussillon tasting in London (in June), and other recommendations from recent wine shopping. These include reds from the 2019, 2020 and 2021 vintages, as well as a few older, more mature and sometimes special bottlings. They were made by different-sized wine producers across the northern Roussillon - Les Pyrénées Orientales is the département name - or 'French Catalonia' as I coined in the subtitle of my book on the region.

22 December 2021

Festive wines of the mo

Rancio Sec Arnaud de Villeneuve, Côtes Catalanes, France (16% abv) - This very dry rancio style is an old-as-time Catalan speciality - although made elsewhere in France and Spain (and Europe) in similarly tiny quantities - and is distinctly different from other traditional cask-aged bottlings from the Roussillon, which is well-known for its mostly red, fortified sweet wines. This tasty 'commercial' example is made by one of the region's biggest (if not the) co-operative wineries...

19 October 2021

Roussillon 2019 reds: La Préceptorie, Domaine Jones and Vignobles d'Agly.

The three 2019 vintage reds tasting-noted here come from a few different northern Roussillon vineyard locations. Full profiles of these wineries and notes on their other wines and previous vintages can be found in my book on the Roussillon. These tasty reds are all available from the Wine Society in the UK (among others, and in other countries), which I became a member of recently.

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.

27 October 2020

ROUSSILLON ‘French Catalonia’ Wild Wine Country by Richard Mark James

This detailed book on the Roussillon wine region in deepest south of France, or far western French Mediterranean to be more precise, is available to order on Amazon as a paperback (with colour photos) and eBook (Kindle). Follow the link below to your 'marketplace' to read the blurb, get swept away and purchase a copy!
Or buy it DIRECT FROM THE AUTHOR (UK and EU only):

07 June 2018

France, Roussillon: white wines

This is one of a handful of mini-features on the 'French Catalan' region of the Roussillon - the Eastern Pyrenees is the official département name (Perpignan, Rivesaltes, Maury, Collioure, Banyuls-sur-mer, erm... the bit in the middle (called Les Aspres) and way out west/south-west to Font Romeu and skiing country...) - which are divided into simple 'best whites' and 'best reds' type hit lists (with a hint of commentary to set the scene), gleaned from a succinct tour and extensive tastings in situ last month in addition to a couple of trips last year.

20 April 2012

Roussillon: Domaine Lavista / Pouderoux update

Photo from domainepouderoux.fr
Click here to find a profile on Domaine Pouderoux and plenty of reds, whites and Maury VDNs to make your mouth water, all tasted on two previous trips to cellar and vineyards (2006 and 2009). The latest news is that Catherine and Robert Pouderoux have caught the organic bug, as I discovered catching up with them at this year's Millésime Bio organic wine show in Montpellier recently. Domaine Lavista consists of a few hectares of organically farmed vineyards officially 'certifed' from 2011, hence just three wines from this vintage so far tasting-noted below. More info to follow on this, which looks like an exciting "project"...

2011 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Mourvèdre & Syrah) – tasty juicy dark-fruited and spicy red with black cherry/berry aromas/flavours, a hint of attractive dry grip vs lush fruity finish. Already promising (not released yet).
2011 Collection white IGP Côtes Catalanes (Grenache blanc, Grenache gris, Macabeu, Malvoisie, Clairette, Carignan blanc) – enticingly crisp and juicy style with lively zingy finish, has a bit of character and weight too. Good.
2011 Muscat sec – clean and crisp grapey Muscat style, zesty dry and nice & easy too.

26 July 2011

Les Clos Perdus, Corbières / Agly Valley

Updated March 2014 - a tasty trio by Paul and Hugo revisited in London last year, imported there by Indigo Wine. Their (now quite pricey) wines are also sold elsewhere in Europe, North America, Japan and Australia - follow the web link at the bottom of this page. Read on for some words about the people and the places.
2011 L'Extreme blanc Côtes Catalanes (Grenache gris/blanc planted in 1903) – juicy and yeast lees-y, floral and nutty too then developing richer more honeyed fruit with lees notes vs fresh juicy mouth-feel to finish. Good white, should be for £27.50.
2008 L'Extreme rouge Côtes Catalanes (75% Lladoner Pelut + Syrah; total sulphites 40 mg/l) – developing 'tar' and meaty notes, quite extracted and chocolate oaky still yet lush and full palate, light bitter twist too but overall quite impressive. £27.50
2010 Prioundo Corbières (Grenache, Cinsault; total sulphites 30 mg/l) – ripe and smoky with dark yet perfumed berry fruit, maturing meaty notes too, concentrated with nice textured tannins, peppery and punchy finish. Yum. £18

July 2011 update: Paul Old, the winemaking half of "the lost vine-plots" which he established with Hugo Stewart in 2003, was showing and pouring their wines at the first "natural" wine fair in London back in May (click there for more info). These wines are imported by Dynamic Vines in the UK. Read on for more wise words and tasty wines dating from my travels 2007 to 2010 (extracted from WineWriting.com). Look at the little blurb on "wine scores" on the right for an explanation/rant on my curious 1-2-3 "marking"...
2009 L’Extreme white VDP des Côtes Catalanes (Grenache gris) – grainy toasty edges vs exotic peachy fruit, soft rounded mouth-feel then crisper finish. 1 although expensive at £15-£20.
2010 Macabeu (not bottled) – steely tight white wine developing light nutty tones, bright floral citrus fruit with a nice bitter twist, subtle refreshing finish. 1+
2007 L’Extreme red Côtes Catalanes (Lledoner pelut/Grenache) – a little closed up at first but it’s nicely perfumed slowly revealing peppery liquorice notes, has savoury leather touches on its rounded vs powerful palate, real depth too. 2+ £15-£20
2009 Cuvée 71 Corbières (mostly Carignan) – ripe berry aromas lined with hints of dark chocolate and vibrant black cherry, attractive dry vs ‘sweet’ tannins. 2 £10-£15
2006 Mire la Mer Corbières (Mourvèdre based) – maturing ‘sweet/savoury’ profile, black/blueberry fruit with ‘forest floor’ undertones; lovely concentration and style with firm yet still lively mouth-feel and elegant length. 2+ £10-£15

This scattered collection of old-vine parcels is owned, and transformed into the wines below, by English farmer Hugo Stewart and Australian winemaker, former dancer Paul Old (now there's an interesting combination of talents), who have vineyards in the Corbières region and in the northern Roussillon near Maury (hence the title of this post and inclusion in two 'guides'). They follow many biodynamic principles and tend the vines and their environment entirely by hand; well, using a few viticultural tools no doubt. The cellar is located in Peyriac-de-Mer on the coastal side of the Corbières, not far from Sigean and the sea obviously. Sampled at the Fenouillèdes in April 2007:
2005 Prioundo Corbières (around Villesques: Grenache Cinsault Mourvèdre) – quite tight and fresh, peppery v cherry fruit, a touch bitter perhaps but it displays nice elegance. 85-87
2005 Cuvée 31 Corbières (Peyriac area: Mourvèdre Carignan Grenache) – meaty black olive characters, more weight and power, again fresh bite and tangy grip but balanced. 87-89
2005 Mire la Mer
Corbières (Mourvèdre Carignan Grenache) – splash of vanilla oak with black fruit coating underneath, rounder finish yet still pretty extracted; quite attractive in the end but lacks soul (too much wood probably).
2005 L'Extreme Vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (Maury area:
Lladoner Pelut/Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre) – lush palate v quite toasty oak, closes up on the finish; difficult to tell, could be good... come back to it in 6 to 12 months. 89+?

Clos Perdus update January & April 2009
I popped in to see Hugo and Paul in their well-chilled cellar in Peyriac in Jan. and tasted a few more wines on their stand at
the Fenouillèdes wine show, in Tautavel in April. Latest news is the purchase of some "very old" Grenache Gris vines between Mas Las Frédas and Maury, to boost their white wine range; something I'm seeing more and more of generally, with increasingly impressive results.
Grenache Gris (off the lees) - yeasty intensity v crisp mineral bite.
2008 Grenache Gris (older vines) - a bit more barrel adds nice roundness and texture v orange peel zestiness.
2007 Prioundo Corbières (mostly Grenache + Cinsault, from tank but final blend about to be bottled) - really perfumed and peppery with liquorice notes; fresh then fatter palate, very nice style. 87+
2007 L'Extreme (mostly Lladoner Pelut + Syrah from Mas Fred, nearly finished sample) - smokier and richer black fruits and spice; lively bite and length v light coconut oak texture. Paul wasn't "entirely happy" with this blend and might tweak it, but it's still v. promising though. 88+
2007 Mire la Mer
(Mourvèdre Carignan Grenache) – dense smoky black olive, berry and cassis; dry and firm mouth-feel v lovely fruit, power and well-balanced tasty finish. 89+
2007 Cuvée 51
Corbières (mostly Peyriac: 50% Carignan + 35% Grenache + Mourvèdre, 14% alc.) - quite rich and medium concentrated with lively floral and dark fruit and light chocolate backdrop. 87+
Lladoner Pelut (from tank) - tangy cassis v spicy v ripe dark fruit, dry rounded texture.
2007 Le
Rosé (mostly Mourvèdre 13.5%) - deep orange colour, chunky and juicy with ripe raspberry fruit turning creamier, weighty v dry finish. Nice style. 87
Cinsault - floral and plummy.
Mourvèdre  - floral v black olive.
2008 Le
Blanc - nice leesy edges v citrus and mineral bite; fresh and dry turning more interesting on the finish. 85
2008 L'Extreme
blanc - fatter and more exotic, again nice yeast-lees and mineral bite v apricot notes. 87
2008 Le Rouge (
Grenache) - very white peppery and explosive berry fruit; ripe v dry mouth-feel, attractive style. 87

2010 UPDATE: Paul was manning a stand at the enigmatically named "Salon du X" - it's not that much of a mystery, actually, a tasting organised by agent Xavier Peyrot des Gachons with a dozen Languedoc & Roussillon winegrowers present (there were originally 10, I think) hence the X - in April at Domaine Gayda's impressive winery & restaurant complex between Limoux and Castelnaudary.
2009 Le Rosé (90% Mourvèdre) - wild and herby edges vs creamier red fruits; tight and quite lean mouth-feel vs a bit of weight and roundness. 85+
2006 Mire la Mer
Corbières (70% Mourvèdre etc. 14% alc.) – chocolate/coconut oak notes vs rich and smoky backdrop, quite toasty yet layered with ripe dark fruit and spices; attractive full rounded finish, tasty and well balanced in the end. 88-90
2007 L'Extreme vin de pays Côtes Catalanes (mostly Lladoner Pelut/Grenache + Syrah) - juicy black cherry, lush with "sweet" liquorice vs spicy undertones; quite soft tannins and finish vs 14% weight. 87+

17 Rue du Marché, 11440 Peyriac-de-Mer. Mobile France: 06 70 08 00 65, UK tel: 01725 511119; www.lesclosperdus.com.

29 June 2011

Roussillon: Domaine Vinci, Estagel / Espira de l'Agly

Latest vintages, new wines and some old favourites from Domaine Vinci tasted on different occasions in 2013. Sulphite levels mentioned, not for geek value but because some people are interested. The trend for recent vintages onwards of Olivier and Emmanuelle's wines is "no added sulphites, no fining or filtering" for reds and just low sulphite additions to whites. Read on for much more...

2009 Rafalot (late 19th century Carignan; total sulphites 6 mg/l) – wild smoky and dark with liquorice vs crunchier fruit profile, lush and extracted although with nice tannins and sweet fruit.
2008 Coyade white (75% Macabeu plus Carignan blanc and Grenache blanc; 8 mg/l SO2) – floral Fino sherry and hazelnut nose, appley with intense bite and length vs creamy lees texture and power, complex finish.
2008 Inferno (Grenache, 9 mg/l SO2) – 13% abv with a little residual sugar. Maury-esque with dried smoky fruit, punchy yet has fresh bite too. Wow.
2012 Roc (Grenache, Carignan; aged in vat only) – juicy fruity cassis and liquorice, tasty crunchy vs riper fruit finish with a little bite.
2011 Roc (Mourvèdre, Carignan) – darker fruit and funkier profile, smoky with black olive notes, firmer fuller finish.
Where to get them: jump to the bottom of this long page.

Update May/June 2011. Read on below for a Vinci profile and notes/reviews spanning 2007 to 2010 (years, that is, not vintages). I caught up with co-owner cum winegrower/maker Olivier Varichon at the first ‘natural’ wine fair held in London (click there for more info) and tried/retried these little 'natural' gems (again, scroll down for detail on varieties, where from, where available etc.), judged with the now world-famous 1-2-3 'scoring system' (see blurb, right hand column):
2006 Coyade white – maturing appley nutty aromas/flavours, rounded and creamy mouth-feel vs still crisp and zingy, very nice now. 1-2
2006 Rafalot red – maturing dried fruits with savoury vs liquorice tones, delicious complex fruit with style and balance. 2-3
2007 Rafalot red – ripe cherry and liquorice, concentrated and lush vs crunchy side, lovely tannins and length. 2
2005 Coste red – resin-y wild edges vs concentrated sweet dark liquorice-tinged fruit, then meaty tones on its long powerful yet classy finish. 2-3
2009 Coste rosé (Mourvèdre, Carignan) – powerful Bandol rosé style, zesty with light red fruits vs oomph and rounder finish. 1-2

You'll find Olivier Varichon and Emmanuelle Vinci's garage-cellar cum office located, unobtrusively, on the main road out of Estagel heading towards Maury. But call first if you want to visit, as they're just as likely to be elsewhere lost among their different parcels of vineyard in the Agly Valley. These four plots all have their own identity and each wine is named after them, whether a varietal or blend. In total, seven hectares are planted with Macabeu, Grenache Blanc and Carignan Blanc (now rare) for the whites; and red Grenache, Carignan (some of which dates back to the late 19th Century - see below) and a not bad amount of Mourvèdre too.
Olivier explained his philosophy: "we decided to work only with so-called local varieties to avoid any style homogenisation by having Syrah or others like Cabernet Sauvignon." All their wines are labelled as vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes, as "appellation laws are restrictive and a typically French absurdity!" coming from a slightly anarchic French winemaker, who did admittedly work in the wine biz in London for several years. He carried on letting off steam: "French wine regulations are a lung cancer for any business, and the AOC system just makes it more confusing for wine consumers. We need to keep it simple using branding and prioritising education on the Roussillon region and its wines."
The following frank comments have been taken out of context a little, due to lack of space, but you get his point: "Honesty isn't the grape-growing industry's forte, so how can you recommend a label that unfortunately doesn't necessarily reflect what the wine or terroir really is. Apologies for sticking the boot in to our viticultural hypocrisy!" Vinci's vineyards are farmed organically as "by and large, the environment gives us the freedom to. But being organic in the vineyard doesn't necessarily mean quality wine. You've got to follow through with the same logic..."

Wines below were tasted in March 2007 (and read on for annual updates, latest from Oct. 2010): all priced €20 in France; also available in the UK (approx £25, see bottom of page), Switzerland and Belgium.
2004 Coyade blanc - fresh floral tones set on hazelnut richness, nice mixture of oily rounded palate v zesty lemon and mineral bite. 87-89
2005 Coyade blanc (just bottled) - fresher chalkier style, milky with light toast v nice crispness, riper softer fruit than the 04; needs a few months to open up. 87-89
2004 Coste (Mourvèdre Carignan) - attractive dark fruit with black olive and gamey edges; herbal v 'sweet' flavours, elegant and ripe with tangy freshness v liquorice finish. 88-90
2004 Rafalot (Carignan, some of which dates from 1889!) - a bit smokier with more chocolate/coconut notes, perfumed black cherry/currant fruit; tighter firmer and more intense, fine length with light choc coating, needs a few years to express itself. 89-91
2004 Inferno (
Grenache at altitude) - a little closed up with light perfumed cherry, spice and liquorice; tighter palate still, lovely freshness and bite v power and rounded fruit, great length. 91-93
2006 Mourvèdre (vat sample) - deliciously perfumed fruit with black olive notes, fresh and peppery with pretty ripe tannins. Promising.

Vinci update 2009: I called in on loquacious and enthusiastic Olivier at the cellar in March and tasted, well, just about everything in tank and barrel plus the latest vintage releases in bottle! Very worthwhile trip that confirmed they - Olivier and Emmanuelle - really are making some of the most exciting wines in the Roussillon.
2006 Coyade white (Macabeu Grenache blanc Carignan blanc, 13.5%) - they blend the must of these three varieties before fermentation, unusually, let it settle out then drain into barriques for 12 months followed by 8 months in stainless tanks. Lightly toasty vs exotic and fat then dry and crisp; tight palate closing up a little, quite fine actually with appley tones vs yeast-lees richness, coconut spice and aniseed finish. 88+
2005 Coyade white - quirky maturing hazelnut and real cider aromas vs still perfumed floral and peachy; yeast-lees fatness vs steely, mineral, almost salty bite; full-bodied with oily texture, tasty and still quite fresh with very dry finish, spicy apple and aniseed too. 87-89
2006 La Coste (Mourvèdre Carignan 13%) - smoky liquorice and black olive tones; juicy and rich with nice crunchy fruit vs firm punchy mouthfeel, well-structured yet quite silky too with rustic fruit and wild herbs vs fine lively finish. 90
2006 Rafalot (very old Carignan, 13.5%) - perfumed floral blueberry, cassis and black cherry fruit vs smoky tobacco edges; delicious cherry fruit, very concentrated with tight acid / tannin framework although still attractively rounded, spicy long finish with lovely lingering wild fruit / herb cocktail. 92+
2007 Inferno (
Grenache tasted from 6 year-old barriques, will spend up to 18 months total, 14%) - toffee-ish & liquorice aromas turning meaty and savoury vs underlying 'sweetness'; chunky tannins vs fresh acidity, very dry long and promising finish. 90-92
2007 Rafalot (from barrel, 13%) - wild fruits with tobacco tinges, again meaty vs crunchy juicy fruit then floral cassis on the finish; delicious firm and dry palate with enticing coating of fruit and tannins, very long and quite fine really. 92+
2007 Mourvèdre - smoky yet perfumed with black olive notes, lovely liquorice fruit vs tangier and wilder side; very firm texture at the moment although has nice meaty concentration and dark fruit finish. Superb although not to everyone's taste! 93-95
2008 Rafalot and Inferno were both looking very good with dense fruit and fine dry silky tannins and 'sweet vs savoury' style. I look forward to trying all the 2008s again after a bit of barrel ageing.
2004 Coste (Mourvèdre Carignan) - powerful, complex, spicy and earthy with wild herb and savoury/leathery dark olive notes vs lively cassis & blueberry fruit; punchy palate with fresh acidity and dry bite still vs juicy spicy fruit, big and rounded turning savoury vs dark chocolate on the finish. Dense mouthful of wine yet multifaceted and maturing nicely into a kind of traditional Bandol style. Good with pan-fried lamb steak. 88-90

2010 updates
1. Olivier had the following new and older vintages up for tasting at the enigmatically named Salon du X: it's not that much of a mystery, actually, a tasting organised by his agent Xavier Peyrot des Gachons with a dozen Languedoc & Roussillon winegrowers present - there were originally 10, I think - hence the X. That was back in April at Domaine Gayda's impressive winery & restaurant complex found between Limoux and Castelnaudary. Refer to wines above for varieties, as they do more or less the same blends each year for each wine; hence the name of a wine = the name of the parcel.
2006 Coyade white - wild lees-edged nose with intense hazelnut and aniseed; concentrated and lively vs oily nutty texture, powerful and long. Lovely. 88-90
2005 Coste - very meaty with black olive notes, smoky and rich vs grip; very nice now although still pretty solid. 89-91

2004 Rafalot (sampled a few weeks earlier at a tasting of 100% Carignans) - slightly grainy tones vs quite lush blueberry, smoky earthy vs rich and spicy; nice rounded fruity mouth-feel yet still structured and quite tight, maturing vs punchy with subtle depth and spicy finish. 89+
2007 Rafalot (sampled a few weeks earlier at a tasting of 100% Carignans) - quite pungent reduced nose at first (had just been bottled I think), which did slowly lift off revealing juicy "sweet" fruit vs crunchier herby spicy profile; again concentrated and powerful, hopefully that "awkward" side should sort itself out in bottle...
2007 Rafalot - still a touch reduced or something on the nose. Moves on to lively crunchy berry fruit, concentrated and chunky with "sweet/savoury" profile, spicy and firm with tight finish needing 2-3 years to open up. Wow. 88-90
2007 Inferno - rich almost cooked nose, concentrated and meaty/leather with grippy solid mouth-feel vs lush and full-bodied. 90
2006 Rafalot - smoky liquorice notes vs cassis and blueberry; more elegant firm vs ripe profile, nice balance of full-on vs restrained. 90+

2. October 2010
Olivier and Emmanuelle had just finished picking when we called by, with Olivier describing it as a rather stressful and short vintage, to say the least. "We lost a lot this year," slightly gloomy but nevertheless characteristically enthusiastic, "...less than 50% of what we usually get!" This was thanks to strange weather throughout the growing season with huge wind during flowering (let alone the snow I've mentioned a few times beforehand back in March) followed by a vicious hailstorm followed by drought! Challenging, this winegrower/maker thing, even in a supposedly ideal climate for wine grapes. Apart from tasting some of their 2006/07/08 reds, it was also great to try four vintages of Vinci's Coyade (the 09 from barrel) side by side, which give me good reason to think this lovely white is already a Roussillon classic...
2006 Coyade (Macabeu/Grenache Blanc/Carignan Blanc 14%) - maturing nutty rich and exotic nose with nice lees edges, towards Riesling "petrol-y" almost too! Lush oily and mealy palate vs "mineral" aniseed and peach stone notes, developing well yet still has a certain freshness keeping it relatively youthful. 89-91
2007 (13%) - much less golden in colour with yeastier and lightly toastier tones; tighter less developed palate, intricate lees notes and very lively crisp and steely finish; nice balance of mouth-watering vs concentrated showing promise, needs a year to express itself. 89-91
2008 (just bottled) - closed up estery nose, more floral and nutty too; very crisp "mineral" mouth-feel with appley notes vs oily texture vs creamy toasty and hazelnut, closes up on the finish. Again v. promising, think quite fine Burgundy! 89+
2009 - quite yeasty nose (obviously), lovely and complex though; full-bodied buttery and nutty with nice refreshing balance, aniseed and mineral undertones vs quite lush finish. Could be pretty sensational... 90-92
2007 Rafalot (very old Carignan) - spicy and aromatic with wild fruits vs meaty earthy edges; quite lush vs complex (sulphide?) notes and crunchy berries, long and tight vs full and developing. 89-91
2006 - smokier with more tobacco and liquorice, spicy too; delicious "sweet/savoury" palate with attractive juicy vs dry texture, lovely tannins and maturing fruit. 92+
2006 Coste (Mourvèdre Carignan) - gorgeous nose, wild smoky and ripe with meaty leather touches yet still aromatic as well; intense concentrated mouth-feel with tasty meaty texture/flavour vs "sweet" and rounded vs dry finish. Star red. 92-94
2008 (100% Mourvèdre this vintage!) - wild aromatic and earthy with ripe black olive, liquorice, leather and pepper; firm and taut palate, intense and lively though with rich fruit underneath vs tight "chalky" finish. Promising too. 90-92+

2008 Inferno (Grenache) - very ripe and powerful nose, peppery and Porty almost; crazy wine, punchy and rich with lots of liquorice and pepper plus a touch of underlying wood grain. Wow: very popular with the Brits, I'm told! A bit OTT on its own but worth a go, has plenty of flavour for sure in a dry Maury way!

Domaine Vinci's wines are available in London from Swig, Eminent Wines, Aubert & Mascoli and the Wine Library for about £25-£30 a bottle. US distributor: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant CA.
19 avenue du Dr Torreilles, 66310 Estagel. Tel: / mobile:, www.domainevinci.com.

15 May 2009

Roussillon: Domaine Pouderoux, Maury

Catherine and Robert Pouderoux (pictured) coax a pretty impeccable range of Côtes du Roussillon Villages and Maury (all styles) from their 18 ha (45 acres), it has to be said. The vineyards are split between the latter village and Latour-de-France, about 10 km southeast, planted mostly with red grapes - Grenache for AOC Maury, the latter plus Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre for CdRV - and one parcel of white Grenache. Robert took us out for a drive up above Maury (taking the Cucugnan road), where you get a great view of the whole appellation and very much beyond: buttressed between the Corbières hills and a loosely parallel coupled ridge that form the valley here. This particular spot is "too exposed" (it hit 35°C = 95+F that 4th Sept. 2006 day by the way) according to Robert; his vineyard is over the other side, where there's some 100+ year-old Grenache. Very dry looking, handsomely gnarled bush vines, difficult to believe they're still alive.
In the cellar, there are several different sizes and materials of vat to enable them to "vinify all parcels separately, even the same varieties." Hence the names on the labels reflect specific plots. The good news for readers of my vinous drivel is that Pouderoux is very export-orientated - 70% and increasing - and their Maury 'mise tardive' (late bottled) is now listed in 100 Waitrose stores (£9.49, see note below); for other wines available in the UK contact Thorman Hunt, London SE11. Read on for 2009 and 2012 updates.

2004 Roc de Plane, white vin de pays (it has to be by law, as if anyone outside of France cares: AOC requires 3 grapes and this is 100% lovely Grenache blanc. Bureaucrats you know where you can stick your paperwork!) - barrel fermented and aged (12 months total) giving nice fatness set against floral peach and aniseed notes, celery and mineral freshness on the finish too. 87-89
2003 Latour de Grés Côtes du Roussillon Villages (50% Carignan plus old Mourvèdre and Syrah, 13.5%) - complex and delicious nose, liquorice & spicy
garrigue notes turning into leather & chocolate; concentrated and weighty with very light spicy choco oak tones, firm and fresh length. 90-92
2003 Terre Brune Côtes du Roussillon Villages (50% Grenache plus old Mourvèdre and Syrah, 14%) - more perfumed than above showing black cherry & olive with earthy undertones, ripe juicy black fruit palate with depth and style, light coating of choco oak and textured tannins, 'sweet' v savoury profile; more powerful than above yet still has finesse and freshness. 92-94
2003 La Mouriane (Grenache Syrah, 14.5%) - barrel fermented with hand plunging (they take the top off): toasty dark fruit, quite oaky yet perfumed and fresh too, 'sweet' choco coating v very rich, tangy black olive savoury fruit; powerful finish, out of kilter at the moment and difficult to read, should be good though (only 200 cases made, €30 a bottle)!
2004 Maury - lovely cassis and black cherry aromas, concentrated rich mouth-feel v dry bite and freshness, very lively fruit v firm tannins and dark choco finish. 90-92
2002 Maury 'late bottled' (2 years in barrel) - perfumed cinnamon and jam notes developing intricate coffee edges, black cherry fruit seems sweeter and lighter than above, but this also has attractive coating and bite of tannins v alcohol; very nice now. 90+
Maury Hors d'Age (15 years' average age) - developing leather and dried fruit notes, soft sweet raspberry palate, seems fierier and more Port like; lingering coating of fruit and tannins. 90
Maury Grande Réserve (part aged in demijohns outside) - more developed still in an old tawny fashion, bitter choco v dried fruits, fatter and sweeter mouth-feel; attractive although less interesting style perhaps (in my opinion anyway).
2004 Muscat de Rivesaltes - all the 05 is already sold out, so this was an indicative sample: still retains charming freshness and citrus edges, sweet & concentrated yet nice cut adds elegance.

Update spring/summer 2009: a long overdue visit had me tasting all around Robert Pouderoux's cellar and most of his 2008s from vat or barrel, as well as more or less all the latest vintages of their range.
Grenache gris & Grenache blanc (40 years old at 300m altitude) - exotic apricot, peach and spices; quite rich and concentrated vs mineral / salty twist, subtle coconut oak spice and texture with nice lively finish. 88+
2008 Grenache blanc & Macabeu (50 years old, same spot) - more citrus and floral notes with gummy lees too, intense and fresh vs delicious juicy texture. 88+
Robert will blend both of these into one white wine.
2008 Grenache - gorgeous vibrant "sweet" and spicy black fruits; dry yet attractively textured with juicy vs firm finish. He's going to do a 100% Grenache cuvée this vintage.
2008 Mourvèdre - peppery and powerful with gripping although fine tannins, punchy and structured vs ripe and rounded.
2008 Carignan - violets, blueberries and black cherries; refreshing and intense wine, very promising.
2008 Syrah - more closed up and has taken up more wood at this stage, very firm framework vs spicy and "sweet" fruit.
2007 Roc de Plane vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes white (13.5%) - lively citrus and orange peel vs exotic fruit and yeast-lees bite; a touch of dry salty mineral texture vs oily weight and exotic fruit, nice balance and style. 87+
2006 Terre Brune Côtes du Roussillon Villages (mostly Grenache plus Mourvèdre Syrah 14.5%) - not very revealing at that moment: "sweet & savoury" in style with rich and chunky vs tight dry mouthfeel, a bit of grainy wood lingers on its structured finish. Not showing brilliantly although the building blocks are in place...
2005 Latour de Grés Côtes du Roussillon Villages (50% Carignan plus Mourvèdre Syrah 14.5%) - a bit baked/oxidised (already open); quite big liquorice vs savoury flavours, solid long finish with leather and ripe "tar" notes.
2004 La Mouriane Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Syrah from north-facing "colder" soils) - more savoury still with very firm framework, attractive leather tones vs lush and peppery fruit vs mouth-coating tannins. Wow. 90+
2007 Maury vendange ("sur grains," early bottled "vintage" style) - aromatic dark cherries and cassis with leather and tobacco edges; sweet vs firm mouthfeel showing attractive balance of fruit, tannin, alcohol and residual sugar. 88+
2004 Maury mise tardive ("late bottled" with 2 years in barrel then 2 in bottle before release) - more baked and "oxidative" in style showing cooked fruit, more complex and peppery too; dry vs sweet vs meaty palate, touch more powerful on the finish. 89
Maury Hors d'Age (longer cask ageing, blend of 12 to 15 year-old wines) - browner colour and more liqueur like in style, much more toffee and pecan nut nose / flavours; spicy, firm and sweet in the mouth, complex and long. 92+
Maury Grande Réserve (less cask ageing than above but some left in demijohns outside) - more oxidised on the nose with lots of toffee and cooked raspberry; again firm and punchy mouthfeel with leather tones, grippy vs sweet texture. Interesting style for sure although I prefer the previous one. 89

2012 UPDATE HERE: Pouderoux launches new organic Roussillon range called Domaine Lavista...

2 Rue Emile Zola, 66460 Maury. Tel: 04 68 57 22 02, domainepouderoux@orange.fr / www.domainepouderoux.fr.


'Red is for wine, blood, revolution, colour... Time-warped slices of mystery, history, fantasy, crime, art, cinema and love...' Buy the e-book or paperback novel on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Click here to view the RED blog!

Send an email


Email *

Message *

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