"Buy my book about the Roussillon wine region (colour paperback or eBook) on Amazon UK HERE or Amazon USA HERE. Or order it direct from me (UK & EU only). Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook. For other countries, tap/click on the link over the cover photo (below right)." Richard Mark James

30 April 2009

Roussillon: Domaine Deveza, Estagel

Run by Chantal Deveza, who also has an on-site holiday gite by the way, this was yet another new estate showing their first vintage (2008) at the Fenouillèdes wine fair in late April 2009 (Tautavel). And yet another one making tasty white wine, convincing me further that the Roussillon is very much more than a one, or two, trick pony (not that I needed that much convincing). Deveza's website was still being built in the summer, when I posted my tasting notes below, so I'll add more detail as and when I have it (Estagel here we come...)

2008 Harmonie white vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (mostly Grenache gris) - with 6 months in cask: subtle coconut notes & texture vs perfumed apricot fruit, juicy yet rounded mouthfeel; attractive well-made style. 87+
2008 Mélodie rosé (Syrah/Grenache) - bright lively and elegant style rather than fruity-fruity, refreshing dry finish. 80-85
2008 Côtes du Roussillon red (Grenache/Carignan/Syrah) - a tad

reduced on the nose, moving on to lively juicy fruit with crunchy berry flavours; finishes with more structured, punchy and spicy mouthfeel. 85-87
2008 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Syrah/Grenache/Carignan, vat sample) - also a touch reduced (should go away); nice tight framework and bite vs juicy fruit, quite long and subtle. 87-89

Rue Mendes-France, 66310 Estagel.
Tel: 04 68 29 15 60 / 06 09 79 77 23, www.domainedeveza.com.

28 April 2009

Roussillon: Domaine des Trois Orris, Tarérach

UPDATED 2013 - see below.

Dutchman Joep Graler's airy organic wines are the product of the remote vine-lands in the central-(wild)western Roussillon outback, around the hamlets of Tarérach and Arboussols. It's also a great spot for walking and meeting no-one else on the way, except the odd lizard, rabbit or pheasant maybe. He has 15 ha/37 acres planted mostly with Carignan (red and white), Syrah, Grenaches, the rare Chenanson and a plot of Chenin blanc; which Joep added as a replacement for Macabeu five years ago, when he established 3 Orris, because "it lacked character." He sells most of his wine in Germany, Asia, the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Switzerland; finding the French market "less and less interesting, people don't have any money!" and too price-driven. Joep has signed up to 'Tourisme de Terroir en Pyrénées Orientales', a joint project between the regional tourist board, wine and food producers and hotels & restaurants; to encourage people to explore beautiful, unknown parts of the Roussillon like this area, and, as in his case no doubt, away from thinking just beaches and ski resorts! Anyway, it must be working as he told me that, out of only 5% direct sales, about three-quarters of this comes from wine trekking tourists.

I tried the following wines at the Fenouillèdes wine show held in April 2007.
2005 blanc (Marsanne Grenache gris Carignan blanc) – attractive appley freshness with a fruity then mineral palate, nice easy-drinker yet something serious about it too. 85-87
2006 blanc "wild ferment" – so called thanks to a bit of Brett (a natural spoilage yeast) adding some funky edges, rich and quite fat mouth-feel; interesting style to say the least!
2004 La Pierre Blanche, Côtes du Roussillon rouge – appealing juicy blackberry style with a touch of tannic grip and substance to finish. 85
2005 La Pierre Blanche, Côtes du Roussillon rouge – lovely lively black fruit cocktail v fresh and zingy even on the palate, light tannins add to its enjoyable length.
2004 Lhusanes
Syrah plus Carignan Grenache) – delicious floral style with black cherry and liquorice notes, more extracted and structured than above although well-handled. 87-89
Lhusanesshowing livelier fruit on the nose and palate, quite rich then tight and firm, lush v fresh and long.
2004 La Figarasse
Carignan) – rich v fine fruit, slight old wood character intruding but has intensity and refreshing length. 87-89
La Figarassecleaner with sexy vibrant fruit layered on its dense structure, dry grip v 'sweet' coating and long bite.
2005 Aife, Vin de Table (
Chenanson) – surprising depth considering its made from 5 year-old vines, attractively fruity and spicy with solid tannins. 87-89

2009 update: tasted with Joep at the Fenouillèdes wine fair, late April in Tautavel:
2007 Aife white (Carignan blanc & Grenache gris) - rounded and oily mouthfeel with honeyed and spicy floral notes, nice fresh vs quite weighty finish. 85+
2007 La Graeia white (Marsanne & Carignan blanc) - zestier and gummier with more mineral style, quite lively and attractive although less interesting perhaps. 83-85
2007 Pierre Blanche Côtes du Roussillon red - appealing lively cassis and black cherry fruit, juicy tasty palate with light tannic grip vs spicy fruity finish. 85+
2007 Lhusanes (50% Syrah plus Carignan Grenache, older vines) – similar fruit and spice character but more concentrated and intense, rich vs tangy finish. 87+
2007 La Figarasse (
100% old Carignan) – pretty intense crunchy vs "sweet" and peppery fruit / texture, nice fresh acidity and grip to finish. 89
2007 Síríssíme (14.5%) - dollop of vanilla oak is quite overpowering, although it does have attractive intensity and fruit. Not sure, we'll see if the latter conquers the former.

2013 UPDATE - RMJ caught up with Joep earlier this year, these were my favourites:

2011 Aife white (mostly Carignan gris) – honeyed apricot-y notes with nutty rounded texture, a touch of creaminess vs fresher side too, light exotic fruit to finish; quite nice style.
2006 Côtes du Roussillon (Carignan, Grenache, Lladoner Pelut) – mature meaty lightly baked nose, complex though; liquorice fruit vs still a touch of grip and lingering leather vs 'sweet/savoury' flavours. Nice drinking now.
2007 La Figarasse Côtes du Roussillon (including 100 year-old Carignan) – hints of coconut, quite rich and concentrated, tasty and savoury with dark vs crunchy fruit, good structure and length. Good wine.
2009 Síríssíme (Syrah) – smoky ripe and meaty with minty herbal edges, dark cherries with maturing savoury tones, spicy and minty finish with thick yet layered tannins, concentrated and still closed up. Good stuff.
Not so keen on / sure about his 2011 Chenanson though, which is aged in acacia and chestnut barrels, although it was very closed up and clumsy with a glimmer of interest in there somewhere!

Mas Llossannes, 66320 Tarérach. Mobile: 06 75 02 51 00. Looks like someone in the Far East has high-jacked his web domain though, when I last looked (vins-troisorris.com).

27 April 2009

Roussillon: Domaine de Vénus, St-Paul de Fenouillet

Vénus is owned by "a dozen wine-loving friends" steered by Nathalie Abet in situ, who gradually bought up and brought together parcel after parcel of old vines spread around the rocky elevated windy terrain near St-Paul; as well as planting some new Syrah and Vermentino. Thus the estate climbed from 7 ha/17 acres in 2003 to 13 ha in 2007. I tried the following wines at the Fenouillèdes wine show held in April of that year. By the way, it's now closer to 15 ha (although those young plantings mentioned above haven't quite yet come on stream) over 40 very different plots, which must be hard to coordinate at picking time!
2005 blanc, Vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (mostly old vine Grenache gris) – quite toasty and rich yet with attractive honeyed fruit overtones and mineral freshness. €11.55 87
2003 rouge, Vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (Carignan Syrah Grenache) – quite structured v ripe cherry fruit with tobacco tones, fairly powerful and long finish. €6.60 87-89
2004 Côtes du Roussillon (Grenache Syrah Carignan) – a bit reductive or something on the nose, moves on to a tight herbal v liquorice palate, somewhat firm and tart but has underlying 'sweetness' too; closes up, a touch bitter in the end perhaps. €10.55 87+?
2003 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Carignan Syrah) – hints of smoky bacon, pretty extracted tannins with light tobacco and sweet plum notes, turning savoury to finish. €11.80

Update spring 2009 tasted at the Fenouillèdes wine fair, late April in Tautavel:
2004 white vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (Grenache gris/Macabeu) – oily buttery texture and flavours with a tad of background toastiness, although it's attractively hazelnutty too; interesting "old" style. 85+
2006 white vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (Grenache gris/Macabeu) – creamier toastier and "sweeter" but again has nice nutty maturing tones and weighty vs lively mouthfeel underneath. 85+
2008 rosé - zesty elegant Provence style with rose petal and red fruit notes, zingy finish too. 85+
2007 red vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes (Carignan/Syrah) – attractive blueberry and cassis fruit with spicy liquorice undertones, nice bit of grip and punch on the palate. 85+
2004 Côtes du Roussillon (Grenache Syrah Carignan) – nice developing savoury fruit with tangy herbal edges, dark chocolate and dry bite to finish. 87+
2004 Côtes du Roussillon Villages (Grenache Carignan Syrah) – a touch more wood on the nose and palate but this also gives it more texture and roundness; maturing "sweet & savoury" fruit vs still firm mouthfeel. 87+
2003 - a bit oxidised, extracted and dried out. Oh, well...

13 Avenue Jean Moulin, 66220 St-Paul de Fenouillet
. Tel: 04 68 59 18 81, domainedevenus@aliceadsl.fr, www.domainedevenus.com.

25 April 2009

Roussillon: Clos Serre Romani, Maury / Rivesaltes

Young couple Laurent and Cylia Pratx joined the seemingly never-ending stream of love-struck newcomers in September 2007 (and long may it continue, I hope), by finding and buying up a few parcels of old vineyards scattered around the now booming village of Maury; the name of one of them was taken to christen their whole 6 ha domaine (15 acres). Laurent's family have been winegrowers "since time immemorial," as it says in the blurb; so they've returned to their roots, type-thing (that surname is suspiciously Catalan-looking), after working for a while in wine in the Rhone Valley. Their cellar and home are in Rivesaltes, hence the dual location and probably a fair bit of driving too!

I tasted the following wines (their first vintage so not all finished examples obviously) with Laurent at the Fenouillèdes wine fair, late April 2009 in Tautavel. They're priced at €7, €10 and €12 respectively. Another one on the "must-see next time in Maury" list...
2008 Providence white (Grenache gris/Grenache blanc/Macabeu) - floral grapey lively and aromatic then more exotic juicy and yeast-leesy; mineral bite vs fair weight and length too. 87
2008 Providence red (Grenache) - lovely pure fruity style with liquorice, violets, pepper and blackberry; turning meatier on the finish with leather tones too. 87
2008 Schistes (Grenache from 3 sites + hint of Carignan
) - livelier and richer showing delicious spice and violets; quite concentrated with "chalky" textured tannins, energetic tasty finish. Yum. 89+
2008 Intuition red (the blend might change each year) - something more mineral about it with wild herb notes, bags of blackberry and spice; punchy yet lush vs crunchy and grippy, intense then softens on the finish. Wow. 90-92

8 Rue Ludovic Ville, 66600 Rivesaltes. Tel/Fax: 04 68 50 12 36,
laurent@serre-romani.fr, www.serre-romani.fr.

24 April 2009

Roussillon: Domaine les Terres de Mallyce, Rasiguères

Domaine les Terres de Mallyce
Corinne Soto describes Terres de Mallyce as an "upper Agly Valley vineyard" in their flier, implying altitude (not surprising around Rasiguères, a good bit south of Maury over the hill and west of Latour) and sloping vines, planted in "schist and granite soils." They're in the process of converting over to fully organic farming, meaning they already are doing it but have to for a bit longer to be officially certified organic. Well-done, another one on the way then. I tried their wines at the, drum roll, Fenouillèdes wine fair in Tautavel back in late April 2009, which are reasonably priced between €5 and €11 a bottle.

2007 In Extremis white vin de pays Côtes Catalanes (mostly Macabeu plus
Grenache gris/Grenache blanc/Carignan blanc) - interesting "oxidative" style with deep colour and very hazelnutty, almost rancio character; nutty tangy then fatter mouthfeel. 87+
2008 Felicis rosé (Syrah/Carignan/Grenache vat sample) - lively gummy red fruity little number, juicy and crisp. 83+
2007 Les Huit Côtes du Roussillon (Carignan/Grenache/Syrah) - quite vanilla coated with underlying bright vs dark berry fruits; dry vs juicy spicy texture and finish. 85-87
2007 Pierres de Lune Côtes du Roussillon (95% very old Carignan/5% Syrah) - herbal peppery cassis notes; spicy turning to liquorice on the palate vs firm bite, more structured yet nice "sweet" fruit too. 87-89
2007 Del Amor Côtes du Roussillon (80% Grenache
+ very old Carignan) - attractive juicy fruit with spicy vs "sweet" tones; firmer punchier mouthfeel finishing with lovely peppery liquorice fruit. 89+
2008 Macabeu vendanges tardives (picked 1st November, 14% and 130g/l residual sugar) - not a finished sample: quite bubblegummy and yeast-leesy at the moment, turning exotic vs wild herb undertones; zingy and fresh bite on the finish vs lush honeyed fruit. Different!

20 bis Rue des Vignes, 66720 Rasiguères.
Tel: 04 68 73 86 37,



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