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Showing posts sorted by date for query Amiel. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query Amiel. Sort by relevance Show all posts

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.

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.

07 April 2018

Grenache / Garnacha: Australia, France (Roussillon), Spain (Catalonia).

Wine Australia says that Grenache 'was the most widely planted variety,' but the amount of Grenache crushed in Aus in 2012 was sadly one-fifth of the quantity harvested in 1979. Meaning somewhere along the line, Australian winemakers fell out of love with the grape, combined with the drop in demand for traditional fortified 'Port styles' based on the variety, which must have been removed in favour of Shiraz, for example among others, and/or very old vines died and weren't replaced. The Australians also claim they have 'some of the oldest vine varietals in the world, red and white,' in South Australia essentially where a successful quarantine policy has kept out the vine-destroying phylloxera louse, including cherished senior-citizen Grenache in the McLaren Vale.

23 December 2015

Grenache reds: Rhône and Roussillon, Rasteau and Amiel

Here's a diverse trio of 'black' Grenache (as the French call the variety) based winter warmers from the southern Rhône Valley and northern Roussillon, which are new releases or vintages from Cave de Rasteau and Mas Amiel (links to some previous words on and recommendations from those two wineries).

Wild boar lurking outside Mas Amiel's shop
Photo by Vi Erickson

2014 Rasteau Tradition (70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and old-vine Carignan) - Actually quite soft and fruity with wild herb/peppery edges, chunky and rich mouth-feel with light bite to finish; a bit too quaffable for a 14% abv red, so food is advised! Cellar door €8.30. Hercules Wine Warehouse in England used to stock these wines, but there were none on their site when I looked. O'Briens off licences in Ireland.
2011 Rasteau Prestige (50 year-old vines: 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre; part of the wine spent one year in oak, 14.5% abv) - Lush spicy black fruits with liquorice and wild herb/mint hints, big and rounded palate yet quite structured still although drinking well too. Yum, delicious hearty red. Cellar door €10.30. O'Briens.
2009 Mas Amiel Origine (sourced from three schist-y hillside plots: Grenache from a spot called Cabirou planted in 1914, Carignan from La Devèze planted in 1952 and young Syrah from the same vineyard; the latter two varieties were aged 14 months in large tuns, not fined or filtered; 14.5% abv) - Maturing meaty and leather edges layered with liquorice and sweet black cherry/berry, complex earthy wild herb notes as well; lush and full-on with savoury vs dark ripe and spicy fruit, punchy and grippy still yet rounded and maturing, dense and concentrated too with lingering liquorice and light bitter twist on the finish. Serious wine and serious price inevitably: cellar door €26.50, The Perfect Cellar (London) £30.

08 May 2014

Roussillon: Mas Amiel update

There are already several words about Mas Amiel on this blog (searches for everything) and their wide range of wines, so I won't add too many more... But MA has launched a series of single block reds called 'Terres Rares' including 'Towards the North' tasting-noted below, which, apart from this vineyard's "does what it says on the label" exposure, comes from a two hectare "parcel" called La Devèze. In particular, plots of "old-vine black Grenache and Syrah (about 8% of the latter) on schist soil with sandstone, blueish limestone and clay," apparently. Anyway, what I liked especially about this red is, unlike some of Amiel's other non-Vin Doux Naturel wines (fortified sweet reds) made a little too Bordeaux-y, it isn't smothered in flashy new oak and really lets the pure Grenache fruit and some kind of intense wild French Mediterranean thing shine through.

Vers le Nord Maury sec 2012 (Grenache, Syrah; 14% abv) - delicious ripe yet floral Grenache nose with dark berries, kirsch, liquorice, pepper and almost wild thyme/pine too; lush concentrated and structured with lovely supple vs 'chalky' tannins, powerful and spicy with nice bite; closes up on its youthful fruit finish, needs some time to open up. Quite classy red. Amiel's wines are listed in the UK and Ireland by e.g. The Perfect Cellar, Lea & Sandeman and Bubble Brothers, although none of them sell this one yet as it's new, as I said. €19.50 cellar door.

And these were (re)tasted recently in London as a reminder of how tasty their 'traditional' Maurys are, made in two very different styles (the link at the top takes you to more info about VDN winemaking). Although they do also remind us, along with the "dry" Maury above, that Amiel's wines are expensive; there's no other way of saying it!

Maury Vintage 2008 (Grenache, 16% abv) - smoky tobacco and developing savoury tones vs sweet blackberry and spice, still young vs maturing meaty side, quite elegant actually for a fortified red. £29.99
Maury 15 Ans d'Age (blend of ages averaging at least 15 years, or something like that; Grenache, Macabeu, Carignan, 16% abv) - "red Madeira" style, complex with cooked red fruits and tangy nutty flavours, long and intricate finish; lovely VDN. £49.99

23 December 2013

Roussillon and Languedoc: "festive sweeties and reds, with or without chocolate" (part 2)

Further to these recent words of wisdom on my WineWriting.com blog: Spain v Australia: festive sweeties and reds, with or without chocolate (goes there naturally), which also includes a little insight into fine chocolate making and the different types... Here are some more "festive sweeties and reds, with or without chocolate," this time sourced from the Languedoc and the Roussillon. When talking about "wine with chocolate," many people - okay, wino people rather than normal people at least - think of rugged Roussillon country and its sometimes sublime red vins doux naturels or fortified sweet reds based on Grenache, especially Banyuls from the southeastern corner bordering Spain or Maury in the region's northern flank nudging up against the Corbières hills.

Those famous demijohns, slightly predictable target for a photo, outside at Mas Amiel: mostly empty as this type of traditional 'oxidative' ageing is now only used for a small proportion of their Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) production. Photo: Vi Erickson.
Mas Amiel is arguably the most famous name in the Maury area (with suitably celeb prices to match, you might be tempted to add) and particularly well known for its old vintages. We were treated to their 1980 (in magnum no less, a special millennium bottling aged for nearly 20 years in demijohns and large casks beforehand; 16.5% abv) at the 'wine with chocolate' tasting event featured in the post mentioned at the top of the page (follow that link for more info). I've tasted this vintage before in situ (goes to profile and notes on MA penned in 2007, 2009, 2010 and updated earlier this year), although not sure if it's exactly the same wine, as that 1980 had one of their regular 'Millésime' labels, implying vintage style i.e. aged for a relatively short time in cask and the rest in bottle. In any case, the 1980 "millennium" was delicious and a fine match for the Co Couture chocs in front of us, especially the chilli flavour actually. Browning in colour with intriguing meat gravy vs liquorice nose, rich and concentrated with lush mouth-feel vs nice bite and developing savoury flavours; still alive with complex long maturing finish. Yum. £85 magnum.
Also from Maury, made by the worth-visiting Vignerons de Maury co-op winery found in the village, comes their Cuvée Centenaire (specially brewed in 2010 to celebrate 100 years, obviously; 16% abv), which was quite orangey brown with 'volatile' red-Madeira notes and sweet dried fruits vs meaty mature cheesy palate; particularly good with the ginger chocolate. About £23. More of their wines are HERE (St-Bacchus Awards) and probably elsewhere on the blog too. Banyuls was well represented by one of its top VDN producers Domaine du Mas Blanc with their 2000 Vieilles Vignes label (old vines; 16.5% abv): oxidised intricate mature-cheesy nose, lush vs savoury palate with complex toffee and dried raspberry flavours, long smooth finish. The plain choc and sea salt flavoured one almost freshened up the wine, not so good with the ginger though funnily enough. £27 approx. More on DMB HERE.
Moving on to a few 'regular' Roussillon and Languedoc reds, not deliberately tasted with chocolate (but might have been unintentionally) in recent weeks. Firstly, a pair from Naked Wines. Benjamin Darnault's 2012 La Cuvée Réservée Cotes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache, Syrah; 14.5% abv, bottled in the Aude though?) is deep purple black in colour, a 'modern' style big fruity and spicy red; peppery blackberry with firm grip vs 'sweet' rounded palate, nice dry texture vs ripe berry fruit, liquorice and spice with punchy alcohol on its lively finish. Attractive good+ co-op level red, okay at £8.49 ('Angel' price) but not worth £11.49 ('normal': more here about Naked's pricing). Same could perhaps be said about their 2012 Le Petit Train Syrah (£8.25 or £10.99) made by Katie Jones, although this wine was apparently specially commissioned by Naked after Katie was sabotaged by some jealous thug, who broke in and poured away an entire vintage of her white wine. So, there's an "investment in people" type story behind it (as is Naked's self-acclaimed style generally). Anyway, it's a very nice red showing touches of sweet coconut oak layered with really ripe black cherry/olive even, soft fruity and rounded mouth-feel with a hint of herby spice vs a light bitter twist of tannins/acidity and blast of warmth. Kept well after opening too, turning softer with the oak less obvious and nice sweet black cherry/olive fruit vs light grip.
Finishing off in Saint-Chinian in the Languedoc back-lands, I've picked out just a few of my favourites from a trip last month, which were winners in a "Grand Cru selection" competition I was on the tasting panel for. CLICK HERE for my full-monty St-Chinian special supplement, which costs £3 (about €4/$4.50) as it's not viewable on this blog (emailed as a PDF). Features several leading estates (and places to eat and stay), including Domaines Canet Valette, Cambis, Jougla, Cazal Viel, La Madura, La Femme Allongée, Boissezon Guiraud, Milhau-Lacugue and more! In the meantime then...
Laurent Miquel Bardou 2008 (100% Syrah) – still quite toasty coconut with spicy dark fruit vs nice meaty edges, the oak melts into it adding a touch of chocolatey texture/flavour, nice tannins and concentration for a 2008; still quite young and structured with substance. Good stuff. €19
La Grange Léon D'une main à l'autre 2011 (Syrah, Carignan, Grenache) - herbal red pepper, liquorice and perfumed white pepper; quite lush with ripe berry fruit, soft and approachable with bit of weight, freshness and length. Nice now. €16

Domaine la Linquière 310 La Sentenelle 2011 - lovely wild garrigue notes (= reminds of heathland flora!) plus sweet liquorice vs peppery fruit, soft tasty and quite elegant finish. €18
Borie la Vitarèle Les Crès 2005 (Mourvèdre, Syrah) - savoury touches vs dark cherry, nice 'chalky' tannins with a touch of freshness, tight and elegant, still relatively young really, lovely savoury vs liquorice and spice finish. €18.50

Above prices are cellar door in France, so these are all towards dear wines although among the producers' top cuvées; or would be in the UK, Ireland or US once you slap on eye-watering taxes!

12 February 2013

World Grenache Competition part 2: Roussillon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape

"Part one" posted on WineWriting.com ran a bit like this, just to regurgitate a bit of background and my thoughts: The first of its kind, I/they believe (? and set to become a regular event I hope), an international wine competition in celebration of one of my fav varieties, Grenache / Garnacha / Garnatxa / Cannonau: red, white, rosé and fortified wines. And absolutely why not, I hear you say. Ah, yes, Cannonau: it took me a while too to remember that Sardinia's Cannonau di Sardegna (click for Part 3...) red is made from what they call Grenache!

Old terraced Grenache, Banyuls-sur-mer
By Vi Erickson
I was on one of the tasting panels in Perpignan on 24th January; my table of tasters (two Spanish - erm, one Valencian, one Catalan - three French and yours truly) sampled and marked about 30 wines: one flight of Spanish rosés, one of Cannonau (my pick of those appear on my other blog - click on the link at top of page) and one of Roussillon 'table' reds. Being held in Perpignan, there were naturally a lot of local entries, which is probably reflected in the amount of medal winners from this region (and some good wines of course). Then again, most of the world's Grenache is planted in France - split between the Rhone valley, Roussillon and Languedoc - and Spain, Garnacha's spiritual home (I have/found contradictory info disagreeing over whether Spain or France has the most!). There were also some entries from Australia (probably not as many as there could/should have been?) and South Africa (again, medal winners and my favs will appear on WW.com), accompanied by surprise samples from Brasil and Republic of Macedonia! But what about California? I believe the main criterion applied for the contest was for large-majority Grenache (red, white, grey or 'furry'...) wines, which perhaps also explains the dominance of the Roussillon and lack of Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Languedoc in the 'French category', although you'd still have expected more Rhone wines in the medal line-up.
Talking of which, this is where I might make myself unpopular. I counted 163 Gold and Silver medals including nine Trophy winners: out of only 364 wines tasted, that's nearly 45% of them, which is too high a proportion compared to other international competitions; and in fact OIV regulations, the organisation that dreamed up the frankly stupid 'official' system used, apparently state that "awards are limited to 30% of samples entered..." I've come across this system before, where you have to allocate a set amount of marks to all aspects of each wine, including e.g. colour and clarity as if that really matters when making a quality judgement. Especially since Grenache isn't naturally known as a variety with lots of rich colour (you can if you really extract it), compared to say Syrah or Cabernet. Anyway, this very long-winded methodology does at least add up to 100, but it's more generous - or the opposite - than the 100 point system used by some wine critics. Scoring works as follows: 84 to 87 Silver medal, Gold 87 to 92 and Trophy 92 to 100 (see what I mean). It's too easy to award too many or too few marks to a wine by adding them all up for each 'category' (visual, olfactory, mouth-feel, overall impression and totally subjective 'typicity'), as you're supposed to. So I judged them applying the 'traditional' 100-pointer in my mind while asking myself: "is this really a silver or gold wine?" Then did the silly math afterwards.
Rant over: you have to use some scoring system or other obviously. And I'm certainly not knocking any attempt to promote great wines made from Grenache from around the world. The nine 'trophy' winners were as follows, which include a fair few Vins Doux Naturels fortified reds and 'whites' (red highlight = link to profile on this blog):
Château de Péna Hors d'âge AOP Rivesaltes Tuilé, Roussillon.
Dom Brial 2010 AOP Rivesaltes Grenat, Roussillon.
Domaine Rossignol 2008 AOP Rivesaltes Ambré, Roussillon.
Albera En croisade Hors d'âge AOP Rivesaltes Ambré, Roussillon.
GT-G 2010 LePlan-Vermeersch AOP Côtes du Rhône Villages.
Lafou Els Amelers 2011 Roqueta DO Terra Alta white, Catalonia.
Saint Roch Kerbuccio 2011 Maison Lafage AOP Maury Sec, Roussillon.
Sartiglia 2011 Azienda Vinicola Attilio Contini DOC Cannonau di Sardegna (actually my top wine in our flight from Sardinia: see WW.com link at top).
Sur Grains 2011 Domaine Boudau AOP Rivesaltes Grenat, Roussillon (my note below).
The full results are viewable here: www.grenachesdumonde.com.

My favourites from the Roussillon and Rhone Valley (tasted in the competition blind, that evening at a food & wine tasting bash or the previous night over dinner) were as follows, including the first outing, for me at least, of some exciting Maury Sec dry red wines (the appellation rules were amended from vintage 2011 to embrace 'dry' and fortified sweet reds from the same area based on Grenache). Medals awarded are in brackets and/or my 100-point style score afterwards:
Sans plus attendre 2010, Domaine Modat Côtes du Roussillon Villages Caramany (Gold medal) - attractive white pepper, sweet cherry and liquorice; firm vs rounded with powerful yet balanced finished. 90
Domaine de Bila-Haut 2010 M. Chapoutier, Côtes du Roussillon Villages Latour de France (Gold) - young lively fruit, rich black cherry with minty spicy edges, tight fresh finish showing a bit of class too. 87+
Le Clos du Fourat 2011 L'Etoile AOP Collioure Rouge (Gold) - nice peppery style with quite rich dark fruit, rounded oak-tinged palate but has attractive tannins and ripe fruit too. 86
Cuvée Centenaire white 2010 Domaine Lafage (large proportion of Grenache blanc I believe) - shows a touch of wood layered with attractive yeast-lees notes and buttery hazelnut aromas/flavours and floral 'mineral' edges, rounded and quite soft with fair weight and rich exotic fruit vs hint of fresh acidity still; good with creamy porcini soup appetizer.
Nicolas vieilles vignes 2011 Maison Lafage, Côtes Catalanes (15% alc.) - attractive Grenache nose, sweet fruit with peppery edges and punchy mouth-feel, firm and structured with tasty ripe fruit; good (Silver).
Cuvée Léa 2011 Maison Lafage, Côtes du Roussillon Les Aspres (14%) - ripe resin-y and rich vs solid framework, closes up on its long finish; needs a little time to open up (Silver).
Montpin 2011 Domaine Pouderoux, Maury Sec - lovely Grenache fruit with peppery intensity, again tasting a bit austere on the palate at the moment (like many 2011s) but it's promising (Silver).
Légende 2011 Mas Amiel, Maury Sec - delicious juicy ripe Grenache fruit, powerful and peppery palate with tight firm long finish; very nice wine.
Grenache blanc vieilles vignes 2011 Clos des Fées (14.5%) - rich rounded and powerful, concentrated with honeyed vs aniseed flavours, rounded finish vs a touch 'mineral' too. Lovely white wine served by the owner/winemaker, the ironically philosophical and down-to-earth Henri Bizeul himself.

Vins Doux Naturels
As a 'by the way', we discovered from Eric Aracil, the Roussillon Wines' export guy who offered the first two below for tasting, that in terms of labelling "Vintage" style red VDNs, winemakers are moving to a uniform use of 'Grenat' in Rivesaltes and Maury and 'Rimage' for Banyuls.
2011 Rivesaltes Grenat 'sur grains' Domaine Boudau (fortified 'on skins', aged in inert concrete vats) - lovely lively black cherry and liquorice fruit with spicy pepper and violet notes, tasty black fruit palate vs firm tannins and nice cut, delicious style drinking well already although will improve in bottle no doubt (Trophy).
2011 Maury Mas Karolina (similar winemaking although part-aged in demi muids size casks = usually about 450 to 600 litre capacity) - more closed up to start, hints of lush dark blackberry fruit, powerful ripe and sweet with peppery tones, bigger more structured wine than above, less 'fruity' even and beginning to show more savoury characters; good stuff, for keeping.
2008 Maury Domaine Thunevin Calvet - enticing mix of dark fruity and peppery vs savoury meaty development, still has a bit of 'kick' yet is also becoming quite soft on the finish.
2010 Maury Serre Romani (15.5%) - attractive aromatic violet notes, sweet vs grippy palate, nice fresher 'lighter' style. Their 2011 won a Gold by the way.
2003 Rivesaltes ambré 2003 Vignoble de Constance et Terrassous (merger of the Thuir and Terrats co-op wineries) - delicious pecan/walnut aromas with toasted hazelnut and Amontillado-style oxidising maturing notes, well balanced and complex finish; still very much alive actually.
The day after the competition, a group of us visited Coume del Mas and Cave Abbé Rous in Banyuls-sur-mer and Domaine Sarda-Mallet on the outskirts of Perpignan: updates on these estates/wineries to follow.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape including some tit-bits of background presented by Michel Blanc, director of the producers' federation:
The Châteauneuf appellation area comes to about 75% Grenache overall, pruned to old bush vines which are handpicked "forcing them to sort the grapes in the vineyard or cellar." Grenache is planted up to about 150 metres altitude with less of the region's characteristic big pebbles as you go up the slopes. The vineyards are often swept by the powerful Mistral wind and see little but heavy rain when they get it. Lots of Grenache was planted here for the first time in the early 20th Century - only 30% was allowed until the end of the previous century - although "we're now looking again at our other varieties, such as Counoise, in the face of hotter summers to get better balance in the wines."
2010 Cornelia Constanza Domaine de la Solitude (100% Grenache, 10% of it aged in new oak) - aromatic floral dark cherry and liquorice nose with volatile fiery notes, punchy vs soft palate with sweet peppery fruit; attractive style even if a little 'hot'.
2010 Domaine Pierre Usseglio - lovely ripe Grenache style with liquorice and pepper, punchy vs soft and fruity palate, nice dry vs rounded tannins, quite fiery yet concentrated and complex; not over the top in the end.
2010 Grenaches de Pierre Domaine Giraud (15% alc.) - wow, quite 'hot' vs lush and spicy warm Grenache fruit; too powerful and unbalanced though: goes to show that 100% isn't necessarily best.

My pick of the Spanish rosados and Cannonau di Sardegna reds we tasted (will) feature on WW.com (click on highlighted links), along with a few choice cuts from the succinct presentations given in the afternoon on Grenache and pen names in Sardinia, Aragon, Catalonia and Australia.

03 November 2010

Banyuls & Maury: sweet seductive red Roussillon

New wine tasting & touring feature published on FrenchMediterraneanWine: "My pick of some (25) of these red (and a few white) Vins Doux Naturels or vins mutés, as they're called in French: literally "natural sweet wines" or fortified wines, tasted in early October on a whirlwind tour of leading estates in north and south Roussillon. Plus words on how these delicious Grenache based wines are made and their different styles." Featured wineries: Amiel, Coume Mas, La Rectorie, Serrelongue, Soulanes, Tour Vieille, Vinci, Coume Majou, Mudigliza; and a new-release Maury from Mont Tauch...

01 November 2010

France: Roussillon - Banyuls and Maury, "sweet seductive red Roussillon..."

Wine tasting & touring: "Banyuls & Maury, sweet seductive red Roussillon..."
Featuring Mas Amiel, Coume Mas, La Rectorie, Serrelongue, Soulanes, Tour Vieille, Vinci, Coume Majou, Mudigliza...

"My pick of some (25) of these red (and a few white) Vins Doux Naturels or vins mutés, as they're called in French: literally "natural sweet wines" or fortified wines, tasted in early October on a whirlwind tour of leading estates in north and south Roussillon. Plus words on how these delicious Grenache based wines are made and their different styles." Featured wineries: Amiel, Coume Mas, La Rectorie, Serrelongue, Soulanes, Tour Vieille, Vinci, Coume Majou, Mudigliza; and a new-release Maury from Mont Tauch.

Demijohns outside at Mas Amiel, by Vi Erickson

Much as I like Port in its differing forms, what gives Banyuls and Maury (also named after the places they come from) the edge, for my palate at least, is the simple fact that they're a touch less alcoholic: 16%-17% (sometimes a bit more such as La Tour Vieille's sublime "Meditation Wine" reviewed below) as opposed to around 20% for Port. And it's difficult to resist the charm that seductive Grenache somehow brings to these Vins Doux Naturels (VDNs) or vins mutés: "natural sweet wines" or fortified wines. Anyway, as for a few educational words about these sumptuous stonking reds (mostly): I wrote the following paragraph previously in a blurb on La Coume du Roy, who produce pretty much all imaginable styles of Maury from "modern" to extremely old, which attempts to summarise the differences in grape handling, winemaking and maturation.
There are essentially two styles of Maury, on a basic level; in reality, there are almost as many as any producer wishes to make! (Ed: same principle for Banyuls, although clearly a different climate by the sea unlike Maury further north, inland and in a valley). Both use mainly the same variety: "black" Grenache as the French call it; and Macabeu, Grenache blanc and/or Grenache gris for the rarer white. The more (or less depending on the cuvée, release date etc.) oxidised aged one, where (for red) the grapes undergo a 4-5 day maceration on skins (or less even) and short fermentation to obtain some colour and desired sugar level; then are pressed and the juice fortified with spirit (leaving about 100 grams/litre residual sugar on average). The other style is said to date from around the mid 1980s: muté sur grains, meaning the entire must with the crushed berries still macerating in it is fortified, stopping fermentation with around 80-85 g/l RS; followed by 2 to 4 weeks maceration on the skins before pressing (avoiding contact with oxygen), which gives much richer colour and tannins. This type of "modern" Banyuls/Maury is usually bottled relatively soon, depending on the specific (sub)style you want - after a period in vat or filled-up barriques - and sometimes aged a little longer in bottle before release (so, technically similar to Vintage and Late Bottled Vintage Port, or Ruby for lower-priced blends), depending on if and how long in barrel. Whereas, the traditional approach is to mature the wine in large old casks and/or vats, and not usually topped up, or even glass demijohns outside, to promote oxidation; like e.g. Banyuls 'Grand Cru' or Tawny Port styles.

Entrance to Domaine de la Rectorie,  by Vi Erickson 

Pierre Parcé at La Rectorie in Banyuls-sur-mer (above) shed some interesting light on how the Parcé brothers, after taking on the family vineyards in the 1980s, came to influence the launch of those "new-wave" Banyuls VDNs. Paraphrasing his words: firstly, by understanding some of the reasons why the traditional oxidised styles continued to be made and history behind them. Part of the reason was the totally isolated nature of many of the area's vineyards at that time with no access roads. This often dictated having to pick all the grapes in one spot in one go and loading them up in a cart under the hot sun, while everything was picked; as it was just too awkward to go back and forth to the cellar several times to unload. Hence, when the grapes did finally arrive, they weren't exactly in the best health; so the skins were discarded quickly by pressing off the must after a short time fermenting, if at all, and fortifying it as soon as possible. The resultant low-colour wines were then aged for long periods of time, in big old casks that weren't topped up and/or outside in demijohns even to promote oxidative ageing, to compensate for any faults and create complex flavours from the maturation process itself (as long as not left too long...)
The "new thinking" already gathering more momentum in the 80s went along the lines of "what if..." Given that grapes could now be delivered to the cellar as and when you wanted them, coupled with much better equipment and technical winemaking know-how; meaning the skins are in perfect condition and can be fermented with the must, like making a regular red wine, to extract colour and tannins. This must is then "muté sur grains", i.e. the fortifying spirit added onto the fermenting berries before pressing. This has an added advantage, as alcohol actually promotes greater extraction while the must is left to macerate. After pressing, the juice is typically, depending on the desired style, protected from oxygen by transfer into inert tanks before bottling or into barrels that are kept filled to the brim. These wines are thus similar to vintage or late bottled vintage Ports, for example, rather than the long cask-aged, oxidised styles that are closer to Tawnies.
Another simply commercial reason for developing young fruity muté sur grains Banyuls wines, was to be able to sell them much sooner. As the Parcé's were pretty much starting from scratch, they had no old maturing stocks like the big co-ops have always had (and some of their wines are very good, it has to be said); and it obviously takes a lot of time and investment to store VDN wines for as long as it takes before they get really interesting. After starting the ball rolling, and extending the above-mentioned winemaking logic to those old-fashioned Banyuls styles (and, as I said, sometimes just plain too old); what if they made a deliberately oxidised, complex wine using grapes that were in perfect condition to begin with? The result: La Rectorie's extraordinary L'Oublée (see note below)...


To start, a word about wine "scores." You'll notice a departure from the usual "100-point" system proliferated across the site, as I just got plain bored of the latter narrow, although admittedly widely recognised, way of "assessing" wines. So, I've continued the schoolteacher theme here that I dreamed up a few months ago for a feature on the Ardèche, which uses a simpler scheme with one to three ticks, as below, echoing those already popular "star" ratings you see around. Still best to actually read my notes and comments at the end of the day, if that's not too dull. And, inevitably, I ended up giving some half-marks as well represented by a tick in brackets! These wines were sampled in October 2010 (unless stated otherwise) at the winery or at home.

√ = good √ √ = very good √ √ √ = fabulous


Scan down the Roussillon A to Z list for more wines and profiles on these producers including where to buy them. Prices quoted here are cellar door in euros or £ / $ retail in the UK or US.

Domaine des Soulanes 2009 Maury (Grenache blanc/gris with 90 grams/litre residual sugar (RS)) - enticing "mineral" vs sweet profile, could be interesting after a bit of time in bottle. √ €9 £11.75
Mas Amiel 2008 Maury (Grenache gris 110g/l RS, 15.5% alc.) - enticing mix of juicy, "mineral/stoney" and sweet aromas/flavours; fairly crisp and fresh underneath vs rich white/yellow fruits, a bit closed up but should turn into a very nice pudding or cheese wine. √ €15+
Domaine Serrelongue 2010 Maury (Grenache gris/Grenache blanc: from cask and not ready yet, obviously!) - lots of aromatic pear fruit, turning rich in the mouth with tasty honey notes vs refreshing acidity and cut; long finish with enticing zesty citrus vs sweetness (about 100g/l residual sugar). Should be good. √

Domaine des Soulanes
2009 Maury (Grenache) - lovely wild-fruit nose with blackberry and liquorice; good balance of sugar, dry tannins and cut of alcohol. √ €11 $24.99 £11.75
Maury "Hors d'Age" (Grenache blend of wines from 1992, 1993 & 1994) - complex toffeed ageing notes on the nose with lush liquorice coating in the mouth; very long and caramelised vs lovely savoury richness. √ √ $41.99
Mas Amiel
2006 Vintage Reserve Maury (Grenache) - seductively rich with savoury edges and light oak texture; again shows good balance of grip, lush black fruits and sugar; quite complex too. √ €20
L09 Vintage Privilege (Grenache passerillé = dried on the vine) - OK, so it's not technically Maury but... very raisin-ed and intense, intriguing and addictive too; pure blackberry and syrup aromas/flavours vs attractive dry tannins vs complex earthy tones. Wow, a one-off. √ √
Maury Prestige 15 Ans d'Age (Years Old on average) - beautiful "old Tawny" nose with molasses/treacle notes and cooked plums; meaty oxidised profile vs dark chocolate vs bite and cut vs intense "sweet/savoury" finish, roasted coffee and nuts too. √ √ √ €23
Click here for more Mas Amiel reviews and background including their superlative 1990, 1980 and 1969 vintages.
Domaine Serrelongue 2008 Maury (Grenache 80-90 RS) - lots of sweet black fruits underpinned by light wood texture, has nice freshness and tight tannins too making it quite restrained in style. €10 √
Domaine Vinci 2008 Inferno (Grenache 5 RS) - another non-Maury (and not even sweet, although it almost should be) sneaked into this feature, as "you know it makes sense." Very ripe and powerful nose, peppery and Port-y 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! √ √ About €20 or £25
Cave Mont Tauch 2001 Réserve Maury (Grenache 16%) - treacle toffee liquorice and prune vs quirky "gassy" oxidised maturing nose with Bovril gravy, toasted coffee beans and leather tones; sweet smooth palate with a bit of kick (but not OTT) then more savoury finish with some lingering dry tannins. 2nd tasting (this wine kept quite well for a week, and the last drop was used for a very nice sauce): less "quirky" and "cheesy" with more toffee and raspberry cordial vs savoury/leather edges; smooth and sweet still with that light kick and touch of tannin, nice "sweet/savoury" finish. √ UK: £7.49 37.5cl at Morrison's.
Coume Majou 2008 Jolo Maury (98 y-o Grenache 17% alc.) - lovely dark fruits, damson and blackberry, beginning to turn tobacco-y; attractive bite and solid tannins, not very sweet actually with lively mouth-feel; a bit fiery at the moment but it's a delicious concentrated "vintage" style Maury. Tasted in March 2010. √ √
Mas Mudigliza (tasted summer 2010)
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. √ √
2009 Maury (from tank) - very black cherry and liquorice, more intense and lush with nice peppery touches; tasty sweet vs dry finish, promising.

Domaine La Tour Vieille 2008 Banyuls (Grenache blanc & gris) - nutty and honeyed with integrated wood grain tones; attractive fruit and texture vs punchy alcohol, sweet vs "mineral" finish. Promising. √ €10 50cl
Domaine La Rectorie L'Oublée (Grenache gris 16.5%): pressed straightaway, fermented then fortified, 10+ years ageing in large tuns then barriques outside before bottling. Quite brownish/red in colour, very different nose with nutty (walnut/pecan) vs dried raspberry/apricot/sultana profile; nutty tangy vs sweet raisin and sultana flavours, delicious complex and lingering finish. √ √ √

Domaine La Tour Vieille
2006 Banyuls Vendanges (mostly Grenache) - lightly oxidised with meaty edges vs damson and liquorice; plum jam flavours vs savoury and quite mature finish. √ €10 50cl
2006 Banyuls Rimage mise tardive (three and a half years in casks filled up to the top) - spicier with more coconut oak apparent vs rich "sweet/savoury" fruit; grippier more powerful mouth-feel then quite tight on the finish actually, surprising young still and impressive. √ √ €15
Banyuls Reserva (4-5 years ageing) - more caramelised nose with cooked raspberry jam aromas, kind of Madeira/Tawny cross springs to mind; big tannins still vs rich fruit, complex tasty and savoury finish although it's pretty sweet though too. √ √ (√) €13
Cuvée Francis Cantié - roasted coffee beans and strawberry jam on the nose, pretty intense in the mouth with nuttier characters then a bit more of a kick too; but that attractive "sweet/savoury" thing takes over and it's surprisingly subtle in the end. √ √ €15 50cl
Vin de Méditation (Solera-style, 18%) - amazingly intricate "red Madeira" nose, very intense and nutty; sweet raspberry and pecan nut flavours, finishing with very different profile to that initial nose as new aromas/flavours keep rolling across your tongue. Wow. √ √ √ €50 50cl
Coume del Mas
2007 Galateo Banyuls (Grenache, 16% & 100g RS) - lovely black fruits with meaty edges; attractive fruity "winey" flavours and texture, still firm and powerful softened by cherry liqueur notes and sweetness. Available in 6cl or 10cl flasks. √ €15 50cl
2007 Quintessence Banyuls (Grenache, 16.5% & 80g RS) - richer, more complex and a touch oakier with more savoury / oxidised edges; more oomph and extracted lush fruit vs big tannins adding dry bite, closes up on the finish. √ √ (√) €26 50cl
2009 Quintessence Banyuls (Grenache low-yielding 70-80 year-old vines, barrel sample) - deep purple/black colour, still showing a bit of toasty chocolate oak vs very rich "Black Forest Gateau" fruit; solid firm mouth-feel, almost "fresh" despite its sweet finish balanced by grippy tannins. Lovely. √ √
Domaine La Rectorie
2008 Banyuls Rimage "mise précoce" (Grenache 16.5%) - which means early bottling: after fortifying "sur grains," this had a further 2-week maceration on skins then pressed, held in vats briefly then bottled. Delicious dark chocolate and black cherry with violet aromas too; rich and sweet vs firm and spicy, nice lush vs tight and grippy finish. √ €11 50cl
2007 Cuvée Léon Parcé Banyuls (Grenache 16.5%) - initially same winemaking as above but then goes into (full) casks for 18 months. Similar fruit profile but meatier / more savoury; chunkier tannins too somehow although rounder as well, nice sweet vs structured mouth-feel with chocolate undercurrent. √ √

Related features:
St-Bacchus Awards 2009 including a trio of star Banyuls/Maury co-operative wines: "Camille Descossy" Le Dominicain, "Mise Tardive" Cornet & Cie, "Vieille Réserve" Vignerons de Maury.
Other recommended Banyuls and Maury producers on my "Roussillon - French Catalonia" pages: Berta-Maillol, Mas Blanc, Calvet-Thunevin, Fontanel, Mas Lavail, Clos Paulilles, Piétri-Géraud, Pouderoux, La Préceptorie, Saint-Roch, Schistes, Traginer.
A few more sexy red VDN stylists under the Rivesaltes appellation: Caladroy, Casenove, Cazes, Comelade, Hylari, Puig-Parahÿ, Rossignol, Rouaud, Sarda Malet, Valmy, Vaquer.
More generic info @ www.roussillon.wine

All rights © Richard Mark James November 2010

01 October 2010

Roussillon: Mas Amiel, Maury

Their latest release red (2011 Maury Sec) is featured HERE (World Grenache Competition 2013) by the way...
And a magnum of 1980 "Millennium Cuvée" Maury VDN tasted with fine chocolate HERE (December 2013).

Those famous demijohns, slightly predictable target for a photo, outside at Mas Amiel.
By Vi Erickson
Arguably the most famous name in the Maury area (and suitably celeb prices to match, you might be cheeky enough to add), Mas Amiel has been owned by Bordeaux magnate Olivier Decelle (Chx. Jean Faure St-Emilion, Haut-Maurac Médoc, Bellevue Fronsac, Haut-Ballet Canon-Fronsac) since 1999, who has obviously made substantial resources available to overhaul and replant the vineyards and build a smart new tasting room/shop on-site. Amiel is a vast and beautiful estate spanning across 190 hectares (470 acres) of vines, 155 of them currently in production, in "90 parcels." The latter figure sounds a bit difficult to get your head round (where does one plot start and finish exactly?) but, if you get the chance to be driven around some of the many tracks here, there and everywhere; then you can see what they mean. The terrain varies greatly with slopes undulating in different ways with different exposure (although much of it south-facing), peaks and troughs of altitude and a colourful variety of schist etc. soils, some towards black and some not so black. In 2003, Olivier called in soil specialists Claude and Lydia Bourguignon to analyse vineyard health and if and where there were any deficiencies to rectify. Winemaking and vineyards now come under the watchful eye of Nicolas Raffy, who I tasted the following with in November 2009:

2007 Altaïr white Côtes du Roussillon (Grenache gris, Macabeu, Grenache blanc: all old vines from a mixed plot, 13%) - honeyed milky aromas with slightly exotic and very light coconut spice notes; fat, oily, smoky and nutty mouthfeel vs mineral bite and attractive bitter twist; mature now. €16 85-87
2007 Notre Terre Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan from 10 plots, 14.5%) - dark cherry and liquorice notes underpinned by creamy cassis; a touch of chocolate oak texture vs firm tannins vs very fruity on the palate, finishing with dry bite and appealing weight although not overpowering. €12 87
2006 Carerades Côtes du Roussillon Villages (old-vine Grenache, Syrah, Carignan from 3 plots; the latter two spent 18 months in barriques, 15%) - toasted dark chocolate plus quite strong "rubbery" oak tones; concentrated lush mouthfeel vs oaky texture, a bit too toasty at the moment but it does have very nice depth underneath. Not convinced the right winemaking balance is there, but it might surprise and mellow. €25 87+
2008 Vintage white Maury (Grenache gris: 110g/l residual sugar, 15.5%) - floral honeysuckle aromas, white peach and "hot stone" notes too; juicy tasty palate with fairly tight finish helping the sweetness and alcohol to blend in nicely, promising actually. €15.50 88
2007 Muscat de Rivesaltes - piercing aromatic aromas/flavours but there's something else there too; zesty and zingy vs sweet mouthful, turning oily with attractive bite of alcohol and herby / citrus finish. Rather dear though at €14! 85
2007 Vintage Maury (Grenache from about 20 different parcels, "muté sur grain" leaving c.100g/l RS, 16%) - gorgeous pure blackberry and other wild fruits, turning liquoricey too with tobacco edges; delicious fruit vs solid firm tannins and punchy 16% but it has plenty of depth; appealing sweet vs dark chocolate bite then closes up a bit on the finish. Needs 2 or 3 years just to open up, let alone actually starting to mature... €14.50 89-91
2006 Vintage Charles Dupuy (selected older Grenache + 14 months in barriques, 80g/l RS, 16.5%) - very dark colour and rich toffee & leather nose, turning meaty too vs lush dark lively fruit; a touch of oak on the palate yet it's nicely integrated with those chunky tannins, sweet/savoury profile showing truffle and Black Forest gateau flavours, then dry grip and power. Wow. €32 90-92
L08 Plentitude "Passerillé sur schiste" (dried out Macabeu berries picked at 22° potential, 145 RS & 14.5%) - strange herby spicy mineral nose; moving on to very rich honeyed flavours, explosive sweetness vs fresh cut and bite. Odd but nice. 87+
Cuvée Spéciale Maury 10 Ans d'Age (aged 1 year in demijohns outside + 9 years in large oak tuns, 16%) - brownish/red colour showing toffee and gravy aromas layered with dried fruits and roasted pecan; explosive sweetness tempered by dark roast coffee notes, fig and tobacco too vs attractive bite and coated mouthfeel. Complex and tasty with very long, sweet/savoury finish. €15.50 92+
1980 Millésime Maury (16.5%) - quite brown too but has deeper colour, cocoa and dried liquorice on the nose with intricate cheesy Madeira-like nose; still has chunky tannins and nice oomph vs lush sweet liquorice fruit then meaty spicy undertones; very alive still and very long, tasty maturing finish. Excellent. €45 93-95
1969 Millésime (16%) - lighter colour with more amber/brown hues, similar nose to above but meatier with more of that mature wild cheese Madeira thing going on; much more toffee-ish and cooked liquorice vs grip and punch, then toasted coffee, fig and tobacco. Again still alive, rich and long although the alcohol carries it more than the 80. €70 92-94

Update October 2010 (see above for more info and approx €uro prices where not quoted below) - tasted in situ:
2008 Altaïr white Côtes du Roussillon (Grenache gris, Macabeu, Grenache blanc) - yeasty vs "mineral" edges, juicy peachy fruit too with aniseed on the finish; very subtle barrel-ferment character adds a bit of fatness to the palate vs crisp and dry. 85-87
2009 Le Plaisir rosé (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan) - nice summer fruit style with juicy and quite concentrated mouth-feel; red fruits and "oily" texture vs crisp bite, pretty textbook Roussillon rosé although way overpriced at €8. 85
2007 Notre Terre Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan) - rich dark cherry, liquorice and chocolate with savoury vs minty edges; meatier palate with nice concentration vs light bitter twist of tannins, tasty now actually. 88
2007 Carerades Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, 15%) - showing a fair amount of coconut and rubber oak vs pretty dense and attractive cherry fruit; that oak's a bit strong at the moment, although the wine still has quite good balance and class despite the high-ish alcohol. Needs a year or two to come together. 89+
2008 Maury blanc (Grenache gris) - enticing mix of juicy, "mineral/stoney" and sweet aromas/flavours; fairly crisp and fresh underneath vs rich white/yellow fruits, a bit closed up but should turn into a very nice pudding or cheese wine. €15+ 87+
2006 Maury Vintage Reserve (Grenache) - seductively rich with savoury edges and light oak texture; again shows good balance of grip, lush black fruits and sugar; quite complex too. €20 87-89
L09 Vintage Privilege (Grenache passerillé = dried on the vine) - very raisin-ed and intense, intriguing and addictive too; pure blackberry and syrup aromas/flavours vs attractive dry tannins vs complex earthy tones. Wow, a one-off. 90+
Prestige Maury 15 Ans d'Age - beautiful "old Tawny" nose with molasses/treacle notes and cooked plums; meaty oxidised profile vs dark chocolate vs bite and cut vs intense "sweet/savoury" finish, roasted coffee and nuts too. €23 92+

April 2007:
2005 Mas Amiel Notre Terre, Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Carignan Mourvèdre Syrah 14.5%) - odd nose (wood?) moves on to a very nice palate, rich ripe tar and chocolate tones v very firm and fresh; powerful length yet balanced, spicy with layered tannins. €11.20 92
More on that tasting.

November 2007:
1990 Mas Amiel, Maury – toffee plum and coffee notes proceed cooked cherries, mature v solid palate with complex fruit development; nice with foie gras de canard! 92+
More on that event.

Mas Amiel, 66460 Maury. Tel: 04 68 29 01 02, www.masamiel.fr.

22 September 2010

International Grenache Day

It's this Friday apparently, September 24th. I wouldn't want to start counting how many Grenache-based wines are talked about and reviewed on this blog or sister site Frenchmediterraneanwine.com. From full-on lush reds to lavish Port-like "vins doux naturels" both from "black" Grenache (noir) or Garnacha / Garnatxa, to exotic whites crafted from white Grenache (blanc) / Garnacha blanca and/or Grenache gris, a pinkish skinned relative that can also work for "grey" style rosés; to fruity rounded rosé / rosado / rosat itself made from the "black" version (and sparkling too...)
Still with me? Here are just a few, off the top of my head, that I've particularly enjoyed (sensibly of course) over the last couple of months (mostly from southern France and Spain although Grenache certainly can excel in Australia, California...):
2008 Mas Mudigliza Maury (see post below this one)
2007 Domaine La Fourmente Les Vieux Grenache des Garrigues, Visan (southern Rhone)
2005 Domaine du Chapitre (Ardèche)
2007 Llopart Rosé Cava
2005 Château des Estanilles Faugères Prestige
2007 Domaine Bertrand-Bergé Rivesaltes Tuilé Ma-ga
2009 La Chevalière Grenache
2008 Domaine de Fenouillet Faugères
2006 Mitchelton Crescent, Victoria
2009 Domaine Jones Grenache
2008 Domaine Treloar One Block red
2007 Les Manyes Terroir al Límit, Priorat
2006 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape "cuvée Cadette"
2007 Inferno Domaine Vinci, Roussillon
1980 Millésime Maury Mas Amiel, Roussillon...
Do a search for lots of links to features / guides / profiles including these and many more Grenache wines:
Or click on any Grenache 'label' at the bottom of a post.
Photo = Grenache from vins-rhone.com

01 March 2010

1945 by Puig-Parahÿ - Roussillon

Talking of ageing red "Vins Doux Naturels" (that slight misnomer given there's nothing terribly natural about adding a good dose of fortifying alcohol, although the residual sugar left in the wine afterwards is of course natural) in my "Mas Amiel" post below, I've published my tasting notes following a winter visit to Domaine Puig-Parahÿ in the central Roussillon, including a 1945 red Rivesaltes (95+ points if you must score such an extraordinary bottle)... more about that filed in the Roussillon winery A to Z, under P obviously...

1945 by Puig-Parahÿ

Talking of ageing red "Vins Doux Naturels" (that slight misnomer given there's nothing terribly natural about adding a good dose of fortifying alcohol, although the residual sugar left in the wine afterwards is of course natural) in my "Mas Amiel" post below, I've published my tasting notes on WineWriting "the site" following a winter visit to Domaine Puig-Parahÿ in the central Roussillon, including a 1945 red Rivesaltes (95+ points if you must score such an extraordinary bottle)... more about that here on my other blog...

08 February 2010

Mas Amiel

I've posted a new profile on Mas Amiel and 10+ wine reviews (including a sublime, 93-95 point 1980 Maury) here in my Roussillon guides. A little taster: "Arguably the most famous name in the Maury area (and suitably celeb prices to match, you might be cheeky enough to add), Mas Amiel has been owned by Bordeaux magnate Olivier Decelle... since 1999..."

30 November 2009

Mas Amiel - Roussillon

I've posted a new profile on Mas Amiel and 10+ wine reviews (including a sublime, 93-95 point 1980 Maury) here, the first chapter in my Roussillon guides. A little taster: "Arguably the most famous name in the Maury area (and suitably celeb prices to match, you might be cheeky enough to add), Mas Amiel has been owned by Bordeaux magnate Olivier Decelle... since 1999..." Updated October 2010 with even more reviews...

31 March 2009

Roussillon: Domaine Hylari, Estagel

Jean-Michel and Isabelle Hylari are based in the village of Estagel, where the micro-winemaking takes place in a cosy backstreet cellar, and have another barrel cellar in nearby Tautavel (both found northwest of Perpignan). They concentrate on making small quantities of distinctive reds, dry whites and complex fortified Rivesaltes: cask-aged red Tuilé & 'white' (as in varieties used but the wines aren't at all in colour) Ambré styles as well as youthful Muscat. Wines below sampled at the Fenouillèdes wine tastings in the region in January 2005 and April 2007, and when I called in at the winery in autumn 2005 and March 2009.
Jean-Michel once took me for a spin past some of the 'new' vineyards he's purchased; actually a few old parcels between Estagel and Maury (not far from Mas Amiel) packed with crumbly dark grey schist and big pebbles. He's also been selectively replanting or re-trellising some Syrah while maintaining treasured old Grenache (red and white) and Carignan. Good to see he remains a fan of Mourvèdre too, which plays a supporting role in the intricate screenplay behind his quadruple-blend red wines. Jean-Michel hopes his son and daughter will get involved in the family estate, not a given nowadays (young French people probably don't think there's any money in wine, wonder where they get that idea from!), once they've finished their studies to bring a new winemaking and marketing dimension perhaps.

Dry white

2005 Muscat sec – still fresh and mineral, ripe fruity palate v zingy elegant and long. 85-87
2004 Muscat sec Vin de Pays Catalan (13%) - Very floral, grapey and zesty with lemon and orange peel notes; fresh and crisp palate with quite good weight too. 87


2005 Coeur de Gamme Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Syrah Carignan Mourvèdre) – spicy fruit and background dark chocolate oak vs quite rich black fruit cocktail; firm vs rounded mouthfeel with light vanilla and coconut tannins and texture; perhaps slightly smokier, riper and more forward now, tasty and well-made. 89
2005 Haut de Gamme Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Syrah Carignan Mourvèdre from selected barrels) – quite similar at first, although you get the impression it has firmer structure and is more concentrated / powerful ("there's no real difference in alcohol strength or varietal blend," J-M confirmed, so it's all down to nuances in barrique-ageing and arduous lot selection by tasting); very attractive black cherry and liquorice fruit, perhaps showing better integration of the wood with rounder mouthfeel despite its dry texture; again well-made and -balanced, after a bit of aeration shows an enticing 'sweet vs savoury' finish vs grip. Can be drunk now although no hurry. 90-92
2003 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre) - Developing attractive smoky savoury notes on top of chocolate and liquorice black plum fruit, good depth and style with pretty grippy bite still, but it's also rounded on the finish. 90
2003 CdRV - tasted four years earlier: perfumed spice plus a hint of oak, chunky blackberry/cherry fruit, concentrated yet pretty firm and closed up on the finish at the moment; however, shows nice bite, elegance and ripeness with well handled oak. 87-89
2001 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Syrah Carignan 13%) - Beginning to oxidise and dry out a little, but still a nice drink now with its rustic liquorice fruit and dry yet ripe palate; lighter than the 2003. 85
2004 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre) - enticing black cherry & olive fruit with background cedar spice notes, nice elegant liquorice and ripe plum style rounded off by firm dry yet supple tannins. 88-90

Tasted two years before:

2004 CdRV (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre) – similar ripe smoky plum and black cherry fruit, nice juicy texture v dry grip and liquorice fruit, elegant too. 88-90
2004 Fûts de Chêne Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre) – ripe smoky plum and liquorice fruit with a light touch of oak, rounded and full with lively bite of tannins and acidity on its attractive length. 90-92

2005 tank samples tasted in his cellar, late Sept 05:

Muscat d'Alexandrie - super aromatic with juicy grapey flavours, lovely depth of fruit and fresh acidity.
Muscat à Petits Grains (Frontignan) - richer than above yet more apple and citrus too, nice concentration and intensity of flavour.
Syrah (best parcels low yielding) - delicious perfumed ripe blackberry nose, nice dry grip and extract v concentration and fresh bite.
Syrah (fermented at lower temperature) - attractive fruit although less generous at this stage and firmer, perhaps more straightforward yet still very nice.
Grenache (after 4 days fermentation) - lovely fruity spicy black cherry and liquorice tones, rich and ripe v fresher cut; still plenty of sugar left, should reach at least 15.5% (will be blended with lower degree Syrah and Mourvèdre).

Vins Doux Naturels

2002 Vendanges d'Or et de Pierre Rivesaltes Ambré (old vine Grenache gris & Macabeu, 16% + 85 grams/litre residual sugar) - complex 'cheesy' oxidising nose with pecan nut notes, turning to toffee vs tangy walnut and Fino aromas/flavours; lively punch with attractive sweet vs savoury texture and finish, beginning to mellow nicely although has plenty of time ahead of it. Good with the foie gras and Maury jelly we had at lunch (at Le Relais des Corbières/La Garrigue in Saint-Paul de Fenouillet), making it taste lusher and more "late-harvest" in style with delicious grapier finish. 90+
1994 Rivesaltes Tuilé (Grenache 16%) - delicious Porty aromas of black fruits, liquorice, leather and cinnamon; rich sweet powerful palate balanced by textured tannins, fresh cut of alcohol and mature earthy dried fruit. Yum, nice with Gruyere, Comté or mature cheddar. 92+ 
1997 Rivesaltes Ambré - quite intense toffee and walnut notes, shows attractive bite and length v warming sweetness. 90

12 Rue Urbain Paret, 66310 Estagel. Tel: 04 68 29 01 21, mobile: 06 70 48 39 79.


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