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

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.

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...

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.

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...

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.


'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 *