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Showing posts with label Latour-de-France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Latour-de-France. 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).

18 March 2013

Roussillon: Clos du Rouge Gorge, Latour-de-France

Cyril Fhal landed in Latour land over ten years ago, having worked at two small estates in the Anjou and Saumur wine regions, where he became committed to the idea of working organically. He's one of now a dozen organic independent growers in the village (half of them are on this blog) and is known for putting in a good deal of painstaking hours in the vineyard, with the aim of enticing “very pure juice” from his grapes, as he put it. The 'Red Neck' vineyard comes to just six patchwork hectares (15 acres) of old vines (50 to 100 years old) on elevated rocky slopes dotted around Latour-de-France, half of which is senior-citizen Carignan nestling up against Grenache, Cinsault and Maccabeu. Cyril is in the “no or low sulphite” camp, and his wines do have some of those quirky 'natural' winemaking edges; but there's an elegant fresher side to them too with some intriguing tasty flavours. By the way, his 'young vines' red is apparently made from 25 year-old Grenache, which isn't very young in vine terms and perhaps gives you a glimpse of where he's coming from.
These (admittedly rather expensive) wines are available from Vine Trail in the UK - where I borrowed some of this info from, as it seems Cyril is far too busy, or wise perhaps, to have a website, blog or Facebook page; though I did meet him at last year's Real Wine Fair in London. The £GBP prices below are for a mixed case, €uros an average on-line price in France and $ price at Chambers Street Wines, NYC. Going there: 6 place Marcel Vié. Phone: 04 68 29 16 37, cyrilfhal@gmail.com.

2008 white Côtes Catalanes (Macabeu) – nutty appley lightly oxidised style, but this wine is tasty and quite long on the finish with an attractive mix of 'mineral' and rounded sensations. £18.25, €20
2010 Jeunes Vignes red Côtes Catalanes (Grenache) – light rustic-edged red, again has some of those apple/cider tones but is soft elegant and tasty in the end; quite light but it flows, man. Not great value @ £17.85, €18.50.
2007 Vieilles Vignes red Côtes Catalanes (mostly Carignan with Grenache) – similar profile on the nose but more concentrated with lush vs tarter blue fruit characters, grippy fresh palate yet has nice texture and interesting flavours. £23.50, €30, $33

01 December 2009

Roussillon: Domaine de Bila-Haut / Chapoutier, Latour-de-France

The big name and big heart of Michel Chapoutier made a relatively discreet move on the Roussillon more than 10 years ago, with his maiden vintage in 2001. Their operation is based in and around the village of Latour-de-France: Bila-Haut now amounts to 65 hectares (160 acres) of their own vineyards here and ten in Lesquerde, the latter eventually becoming the source of a new Côtes du Roussillon Villages ‘Lesquerde’ red label. These plantings are supplemented by grapes purchased from other trusted growers in the area and further south too: a Banyuls and a red Rivesaltes Vin Doux Naturel have been added to the range more recently (I’ve yet to taste these though). Chapoutier’s arrival must have helped in convincing any lingering sceptics, if there were/are any left, that there really are some superb old vineyards in the Agly Valley stretching across the Roussillon's ragged northern reaches. An ideal spot, it would seem (dry and windy), for implementing the company's global philosophy and farming policy of organic/biodynamic winegrowing.
As for the two tasty, although not exactly spectacular, reds reviewed below in December 2009, they're sourced from different parcels with different soils and aspect: gneiss, black and brown schist and limestone, just to hit you with a bit of geology; although these ancient soils do look the part with their variable texture and colour. Certain vineyards are higher lying than others too; and the first wine doesn't see any wood during winemaking, whereas the second has a longer maceration on the grape skins and half of it is aged in casks. The US importer of Domaine Bila-Haut wines is HB Wine Merchants, and Mentzendorff & Co. in London. www.chapoutier.com.

2008 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Syrah Grenache Carignan 13.5%) - attractive vibrant aromatic fruit and spice, black cherry with liquorice and wilder smoky notes too; juicy and quite lush showing nice weight vs refreshing bite and dry chalky tannins; young obviously but drinking quite well now. Fairly straightforward and gluggable wine and not bad with cannelloni, which the next day (the wine not the pasta) opened up to a fruitier, more peppery, unoaked Crozes-Hermitage look-alike! France on-line shop price €7.50. In the UK: £8 Armit Wines, Bordeaux Index, Genesis Wines. 85-87
The latest medal winning vintage of this wine (2010) is HERE (World Grenache Competition 2013).
2007 Occultum Lapidem Côtes du Roussillon Villages Latour-de-France (Syrah Grenache Carignan 14.5%) - richer smokier and denser than above, although has plenty of nice earthy/minty dark fruits, liquorice and meaty/leather/tobacco tones; chunky and lush mouth-feel with light wood grain texture vs rounded tannins, attractive weight and power (and higher alcohol!), spicy vs grippy vs rich fruit on the finish. France on-line €11. UK: £13 Roberson's, Quintessentially Wine. 89+?

11 April 2009

Roussillon: Domaine Rivaton, Latour-de-France

UPDATED 2013 - see below.

Frédéric Rivaton arrived as a young pioneer on the "final frontier" (groan) of the northern Roussillon in 2004 - that was his first vintage I think - and now has 12 ha (30 acres) scattered around the old old "border" village of Latour de France (west of Estagel, southeast of Maury: there's some history there...). He says he likes to work as "naturally" as possible (widely used nowadays without much official definition, although pretty obvious for those who mean it) with a lot of fussy work in the vineyard especially and only using treatments sanctioned by organic viticulture, e.g. sulphur and copper based "natural" chemicals (there I go again with the ").
The two reds below and Frédéric's very lively old-Carignan grape juice ("I can't make wine out of it..." paraphrasing what he told me once) were tasted at the 2009 Fenouillèdes wine fair in Tautavel:
2005 Vieilles Vignes (Carignan Grenache "etc.") - smoky "inky" nose, quite rustic but it's lush with wild fruit flavours and tobacco notes, nice soft spicy fruit and texture with mature supple finish. 87+
2006 Gribouille Côtes du Roussillon Villages "Latour de France" (Carignan Grenache Syrah) - more structured and concentrated with liquorice, tobacco and toffee apple; spice and leather notes too, nice now actually although should improve over the next year or so. 87-89
Carignan 1930 jus de raisin - very nice and refreshing with aromatic sweet vs tart finish. Different!
And this is what I said previously about his wines (the May 2006 wine fair):
2004 Gribouille Latour de France CdRV - (2nd bottle; the one in the blind tasting was bottled too soon and suffered from reductive taint) nice smoky tar and leather tones, rich and ripe v firm and tight, attractive style. 90
2005 Latour de France CdRV ("probably": cask sample) - smoky leather tinged with black cherries, rustic and lush with solid yet elegant finish. 90
And back in January 2005, my first comprehensive (wine) trip to the area:
2004 Domaine Rivaton (unnamed vat sample) - quite chunky fruit and structure, tight long finish, shows promise. 89

2013 UPDATE
Had a chat and taste with Fred earlier this year in Montpellier, who's moved all his wines under the simpler 'Vin de France' umbrella designation. Something to do with bureaucrats not liking and passing his wines for 'appellation', but "they're not going to stop me making wine," he explained with feeling!
Rage against the Machine white (Macabeu, Muscat) - quite wild and cider-y, lively mineral palate with ripe apple and aniseed, crisp long finish. Good in that not-for-everyone style.
Panoramix sparkling rosé (Syrah) - second fermentation in bottle. Nice and fresh with raspberry fruit, crisp lively finish, appealing style.
Panoramix dry white (Macabeu, Carignan blanc, Grenache gris) - appley edges, crisp and mineral vs nutty finish.
2011 Tombé du Ciel red - "a difficult vintage," Fred commented, "and it's (the wine) a bit close to the edge..." Pretty funky 'volatile nose', peppery and concentrated, some nice cherry fruit underneath but it's a little wild, man.
2009 old vines (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah) - quite rich and chunky, attractive dark fruit, still pretty funky although concentrated vs firm and tight still.
2009 Gribouille (same blend but from schist soils) - structured vs lush, very concentrated and less earthy than the others, solid powerful finish. Nice red.

9 rue Gabriel Péri, 66720 Latour de France. Tel: 04 68 51 76 08, v-frivaton@tele2.fr, rivaton.vinsnaturels.fr.

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