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Showing posts with label Saint Paul de Fenouillet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saint Paul de Fenouillet. Show all posts

15 April 2013

Roussillon: Jean-Louis Denois, Saint Paul de Fenouillet


There's a lot of talk about "low or no sulphite" wines, and enough examples out there to remind us why most winemakers DON'T go down this more challenging route (sulphur dioxide and related additives are basically used as anti-bacterial agent, anti-oxidant and preservative). Jean-Louis Denois, perhaps better known for his pioneering still, and especially sparkling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines from Limoux (links to other profile on these vineyards and wines) to the north over the 'border' in the Languedoc (as well as experimental plantings of Riesling and Gewurztraminer in the late 90s, deemed 'illegal' at the time by narrow-minded bureaucrats), takes a pretty rational scientific view of this approach while claiming "there's just no alternative." In 2006, he bought a couple of vineyard plots lost between Saint Paul de Fenouillet and Caudiés de Fenouillet, in the upper Agly valley in the far northwestern corner of the Roussillon, which, like all his vineyards, was converted to organics in 2009. But he began to question whether this was enough: "Producing organically is certainly good for the planet, environment, soils and our water; but shouldn't we go further? 'Sulphite free' is also good for our health." Vintage 2012 was the year of the big experiment...
Jean-Louis is convinced, logically enough, that the only way to make good 'stable' wines without adding sulphites is to get "perfect healthy grapes" by controlling yields and sorting them before and after picking; and, naturally, to make sure of "hygienic conditions in the cellar... critical to eliminate the risk of negative bacteria causing off-flavours sometimes observed in natural wines... Only this protocol is able to guarantee stability for this type of wine." He also stresses this is "very different to the idea of letting 'Nature do it alone'." Well, the proof is in the pudding, as that charmingly curious expression goes. And, yes, the wines are good and free from any obvious 'faults' you might possibly find in other 'natural' wines (especially if you're looking for them). They cost about €10-€11 a bottle in France. More info @ www.jldenois.com.

Mes Vignes de Saint Paul 2012 white (Chardonnay) - attractive floral and fresh, juicy and lively nose with nutty yeasty 'straw' like edges; richer honeyed side on the palate vs zingy appley flavours, crisp 'mineral' and dry with light elegant finish; quite long really for 12% alcohol, nice and mouth-watering making it very drinkable yet there's subtle concentration and character too. After a day or two open: does get more appley and nutty / oxidative yet was still juicy and refreshing with appealing sultana notes too.
Mes Vignes de Saint Paul 2012 red (Syrah, Merlot and Grenache) - not showing a lot of rich fruit flavour at first but again it's elegant and balanced (13.5% abv though) with nice textured dry vs silky tannins, subtle ripeness underneath vs enticing savoury edges; very drinkable now actually, you get more black cherry and blueberry fruit as it opens up with peppery, herby and even eucalyptus hints. After a day or two open: gets more savoury and developed (as you'd expect really) with attractive black olive notes too, yet still structured and reasonably fresh.

Some other wines sourced from Caudiès include:
2011 Saint Louis Syrah (9 months in cask, 14% abv) – light spicy coconut tones with rich damson black cherry and cassis, stewed apple and blackberry notes too vs a savoury and earthy wilder side; lush ripe fruit vs firm dry tannins although palate is rounded and smooth too, that spicy coco grain comes back, powerful and structured but balanced. Lingering dark fruit with subtle oak and tannin texture, lots of peppery vs ripe cherry/berry fruit edged with spicy earthy notes then grip and punch. Second day open – more savoury and rustic edged with liquorice flavours, concentrated and still powerful with sweet fruit and lovely dry/rounded tannins. Good stuff, needs a little more time in bottle perhaps although approachable now.
2007 Saint Louis Syrah pays d'Oc (14%) - a bit 'soupy' / volatile / wild edged, but it's lush and concentrated too, thick dry textured vs ripe and silky tannins, turning to black olive and meaty / leather. Big wine vs rounded and quite mature.
2012 Les Oliviers white Sud de France (blend of mostly Chardonnay plus a little Muscat from the Fenouillèdes and some Chenin from Roquetaillade; 11.8%, organic) - nice aromatic nose, floral and grapey vs peach and citrus, dry crisp and elegant palate with attractive simple tasty fruit and zesty 'chalky' finish. €7

More on JLD's Limoux wines etc. HERE.

20 September 2010

Roussillon: Mas Mudigliza, St-Paul-de-Fenouillet

This slightly curiously named estate is Dimitri Glipa and Muriel Samson's fairly new operation based to the west of Maury. Not much on their site at the moment except this nice picture of an old casot, one of those cute little stone shelters you see around in the middle of vineyards, just waiting to be converted into a trendy little studio (I jest)... I tasted these two promising wines at the now internationally famous (I've mentioned it often enough!) and rocking Fenouillèdes show in late April 2009:

2007 Caudalouis white - floral 'mineral' notes turning honeyed and juicy with lightly toasty edges; very dry and crisp vs subtle yeast-lees and toasted texture. 85+
2007 Carminé red Côtes du Roussillon - lovely spicy nose with violet, dark cherry and chocolate tones; tasty 'sweet & savoury' palate with chunky but ripe tannins, powerful and fruity on the finish. 88-90

UPDATE summer/autumn 2010

To fill in the blanks on some of those unanswered questions above, I called in at Dimitri's cellar in Saint-Paul in July to catch up and taste the latest. He told me their vineyards are "mostly around St-Paul on the south side, although often north-facing as you head towards Maury... and some parcels in St-Arnac at altitude (south of Maury)..." US importers include Thomas Calder (based in Paris I think?), Garagiste wine in Seattle and R Wine in NYC (not sure if I've got that right?); and Champagne et Chateaux who sell to a number of independents around the UK.

2009 CaudaLouis vin de pays Côtes Catalanes (mostly Grenache gris + Macabeu 14.5% alc.) - toasty mealy and spicy vs floral apricot notes; nice rounded mouth-feel with subtle concentration, still quite woody with creamy lees edges vs zesty and lively; powerful too yet well-balanced and mineral on the finish. 87-89
2008 Carminé Côtes du Roussillon (Grenache Carignan Syrah 14.5% ) - delicious perfumed black cherry, liquorice and spice aromas; quite tight crunchy and fresh on the palate vs subtle richness with ripe cassis and wild berries, underlying vanilla coating too with power and dry/sweet tannins; fairly elegant actually despite that weight. 87-89
2007 Symbiosis Côtes du Roussillon (Carignan Syrah Grenache 14.5% ) - from schist soils at altitude. Richer darker and toastier with chocolate and coconut on the nose; big mouthful of lush fruit vs grippy yet textured tannins, tight toasty finish vs nice concentration and spice. Needs 1-2 years to open up. 89-91
2008 Symbiosis (more Syrah this vintage, barrel sample) - spicier coco nose, lighter crisper mouth-feel even with tight and grainy texture; subtle spicy berry fruit underneath, closes up on the finish. Less full-bodied than the 07 but less wood and nice bite too.
2008 Maury - delicious ripe black cherry fruit with savoury leather edges; tannins softening up nicely although still has good bite vs sweetness (75-80 g/l residual sugar = less than many Maurys), youthful fiery finish vs lovely balance of 'sweet/savoury' fruit. 88+
2009 Maury (from tank) - very black cherry and liquorice, more intense and lush with nice peppery touches; tasty sweet vs dry finish, promising.

20 Rue de Lesquerde, 66220 St-Paul-de-Fenouillet. Tel: 04 68 35 01 99.

30 January 2008

Roussillon: Domaine Jorel, St-Paul de Fenouillet

Manuel Jorel has seven organically farmed hectares, with three more undergoing 'conversion' (a three year monitored period without synthetic chemicals before being officially certified, so to speak; not that I'm implying that organic growers are mad!), around the village of St-Paul lying on the western side of the stunningly raw Fenouillèdes area. Jorel also makes a lovely Maury fortified VDN wine as well as red & white Vins de Pays; probably because they only have some superb old-vine Grenache (red and white varieties) and Carignan and no Syrah (I'm guessing as I haven't been there yet), meaning the wines don't fit silly AOC CDRV rules. Anyway, some of his cuvées have the name of the parcel it came from, so you can't get much more terroir-ist than that. This one was tasted at Millésime Bio wine show 2008 (January 08 Perpignan):

2005 Pétaillat Vin de Pays des Pyrénées Orientales (Grenache) - attractive 'sweet' and rich liquorice and tobacco aromas/flavours with quite firm tannin-ed mouth-feel, lovely finish and style. €10 89-91

More Jorel wines filed under Millésime Bio 2006.

28 Rue Arago, 66220 St-Paul de Fenouillet - www.domainejorel.fr


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