"Buy my book about the Roussillon on Amazon UK in paperback or eBook or black & white version, and Amazon USA: paperback or eBook or black & white. OR BUY IT DIRECT FROM ME (UK & EU only). Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook. For other countries, tap on the link above the cover photo (below right)." Richard Mark James

30 June 2009

Collioure: 2008 whites & rosés

From collioure.com
As well as being a famous (for instance, brightly coloured masterpieces and extinct anchovies), twee and touristy seaside town on the south-east Roussillon coast, not far from the barely visible line marking Catalunya Sud; the evocative name of Collioure is also an appellation for red, white and rosé wines. It covers the same terrain as vineyards used to source grapes for those perhaps better-known Vins Doux Naturels, sweet fortified aged reds (mostly) labelled as Banyuls, stretching dramatically behind and between Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls-sur-mer and Cerbère.
Collioure has arguably gained a pretty good reputation now for its Med red wines (based on Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre), at least for those lucky enough to have discovered any of the very good ones; but also deserves to find a wider wine-enthusiast audience (especially as they can be just as dear as the reds) for its sometimes very characterful whites and rosés. Here are half-a-dozen 2008 vintage wines I discovered at Les Musaïques des Collioure wine and food festival in mid-June 2009, which make enticing autumn drinking.


2008 Domaine Manya-Puig (Grenache blanc Marsanne Roussanne) - aromatic, floral and lightly exotic fruit vs zingy, elegant and tight mouth-feel; zesty orange peel notes vs a touch of appealing weight and roundness. €8.50 87
2008 Domaine La Tour Vieille Les Canadells (mostly Grenache blanc, Grenache gris and Vermentino plus Macabeu, Marsanne 14%) - floral nutty nose with a touch of background oak and lightly exotic fruit; juicy apricot-tinged palate with quite weighty and rounded mouthfeel, powerful nutty finish and well-handled oak texture. €13 87-89
Click here for a full profile & tasting notes on La Tour Vieille including a delicious rosé plus all their reds and VDNs.
2008 Domaine Piétri-Géraud (Grenache blanc Grenache gris Vermentino) - shows a touch of vanilla on the nose but this is zesty and fresh too, rounded and toasty but not too much with good balance in the end. Approx £/$/12 85-87
Click here for full profile & tasting notes on Piétri-Géraud.

Other white Collioure tips: Mas Blanc, Coume del Mas, La Rectorie. More on these estates here.


2008 Domaine St. Sébastien - nice creamy vs lively red fruit style, oily textured and weighty vs zesty and crisp with light bitter twist. €8 87
2008 La Rectorie - big juicy vs tight and zingy mouthful, perfumed rose petal and red fruits on its quite serious finish. €15! 87-89
See Winery A-Z for full profile on La Rectorie.
2008 Domaine Casa Blanca - attractive oily and red fruity textured style, ripe sweet fruit vs crisp and lively on the finish. 87-89

Other tasty Collioure rosés: Clos Paulilles, Domaine Berta-Maillol. See Winery A-Z for more info.

22 June 2009

Domaine Mas Mouriès, Languedoc/Sommières

First, a touch of geography to set the scene for this, at the time, newly explored ground in my swelling Languedoc winery series. The pleasant village of Sommières forms the heart of one of those recently created sub-zones in the far (north)eastern corner of the "old" Coteaux du Languedoc appellation (the "Coteaux" bit is supposedly going to be dropped although still widely used...), lying roughly inbetween Montpellier and Alès and to the west of Nîmes. You're probably more familiar with the latter city, being a popular tourist destination standing at the crossroads between Languedoc and Provence. From www.mas-mouries.comThe Costières de Nîmes wine appellation spreads out across a quite broad area south of Nîmes and, although technically in the Languedoc region, growers here have always aligned themselves wine-wise more closely to producers in the Rhone Valley (that famous river does indeed flow past not too far from here on its way into the Med). "Confused? You will be..." Anyway, all that really matters is that there are several very good producers in this elongated area, who appear to have enough in common for me to shove them together under "Languedoc 6: just when you thought it was over..."

Domaine Mas Mouriès
Solange and Eric Bouet are the affable couple behind off-the-beaten-track Mas Mouriès (see picture above), made up of a few pretty old farmhouse buildings surrounded by about 30 hectares (75 acres) of vineyards lying on gentle hills just outside the miniature village of Vic le Fesq. As well as making arguably one of the Languedoc's best red wines fit for ageing (Les Myrthes, see my notes below), they're also trying to preserve the estate's diverse natural environment of green trees and wild flowers, herbs and brambles by farming organically. I called in on Eric in June 2009, had a pleasant stroll around the vineyard and tasted the following wines (and re-tasted some of them in July 09):
2008 Coteaux du Languedoc rosé (Cinsault Grenache Syrah 13%) - aromatic floral red cherry notes, fresh and crisp vs lightly creamy mouthfeel with simple tasty redcurrant finish. €5 80-85
2007 Vin de Pays white (Grenache blanc Ugni blanc Sauvignon blanc) - gummy and mineral vs quite rich and oily, attractive texture and weight balancing its underlying freshness vs exotic "fat" characters. Very nice white and great value at €6. 87-89
2003 Vin de Pays white (13.5%) - developed, rounded, nutty and oily vs dried apricot notes; quite a kick to it and full-bodied mouthful, interesting old white style although beginning to fade a bit.2007 "M" Coteaux du Languedoc (Syrah Grenache Cinsault) - lovely perfumed dark cherries and ripe blueberries / cassis, turning more liquorice with light smoky wild herb tones; lively and tasty with a tad of fresh bite, supple vs dry tannins and a bit of weight; aromatic crunchy juicy vs "sweet" fruit, turning more savoury and spicy on the finish. €7 87-89
2004 Les Myrthes Coteaux du Languedoc (two-thirds Syrah plus Grenache) - smoky forest floor and leather maturing notes, complex turning more "tar" like vs wild herbs vs subtle sweet oak; fine dry tannins, a bit of power but very well balanced with cassis vs liquorice vs savoury fruit and lovely coating and texture, elegant stylish finish. Drinking now although will keep for another 5 years easily with its impeccable balance of fruit, oak, tannins and alcohol. €15 92-94
2003 Les Myrthes - actually a bit closed up to start with light cedar vs ripe cassis on the nose; much chunkier with bigger tannins and maturing leather notes, surprisingly tight and closed on the finish with grip and concentration. In the end, it's a tad unbalanced towards alcohol and tannins but still has very seductive savoury fruit finish. €15 89-91
2001 Les Myrthes - maturing leather, liquorice and dried fruits/herbs with rich cassis vs savoury undertones, delicious and complex; sumptuous dark tasty and lush vs elegant and quite mature, attractive texture still with a hint of fine dry tannins; there's still life in it yet. €20 92-94
2000 Amarante (precursor to above) - tobacco/leather and mature unpasteurised cheese (!), dried cassis and wild herbs vs liquorice and "tar"; sweet & savoury style with fine balance, again well developed with less structured, more melted-in tannins but still delicious maturing minty vs liquorice fruit and lovely length. 92-94
Aster (2007 sweet white "vin de table", 14.5% and 104 gr/litre residual sugar) - intriguing floral wild honey nose plus super ripe apricots and marmalade, rich oily and spicy fruit with "mushroom" botrytis notes; good balance with refreshing acidity, rhubarb jam vs waxy and spicy texture, quite subtle despite its sweetness; attractive odd-ball kind-of Sauternes/Montbazillac style with a bit less acidity.

Mas Mouriès, 30260 Vic Le Fesq. Tel/fax: 04 66 77 87 13, bouet.eric@wanadoo.frwww.mas-mouries.com.

20 June 2009

Languedoc: Domaine Pastouret, Costières de Nîmes

Domaine Pastouret

Jeanne and Michel Pastouret have been working to organic standards since 1980, so you certainly can't say they've jumped on the "bio" (as the French call it) bandwagon! After taking that initial step, they became fully certified organic in 1993 following a period of "remodelling the estate," as Michel explained to me, with the "first new wines" released in 2000. Their 30 hectares (75 acres) of vineyard lie on gently south-facing slopes along the Nîmes "Costières" itself. I first came across one their reds as a tasting judge at the 2006 Signature Bio organic wine competition and finally had the chance to visit them in June 2009 while in the area. 

These are the latest vintages available, all reasonably priced between €5 and €6.50:
2008 Costières de Nîmes rosé (50/50 Syrah/Grenache) - nice elegant Provence vs Languedoc style with attractive light fruit vs crisp, lively and mouth-watering finish. 85-87
2008 Costières de Nîmes white (Clairette "de Bellegarde"/Grenache blanc) - aromatic and mineral to start, turning more exotic and gummy; attractive gentle fruit and crisp dry bite showing good length and mouth-watering finish again. 87
2008 Costières de Nîmes red (Syrah/Grenache) - lovely spicy black cherry fruit, perfumed and upfront; juicy mouthfeel and more concentrated than expected vs dry yet rounded tannins, nice and ripe vs a bit of bite with good balance of juicy spicy flavours and firmer texture. 87
2007 Cuvée Spéciale Costières de Nîmes (Syrah/Grenache remaining after the rosé is "bled" off with malolactic fermentation in barriques) - again shows enticing fruit although more powerful and full-bodied with bigger structure and grip; quite concentrated and chunky vs background fruit and very light cedar / chocolate notes. Needs a year to open up fully. 89+

Route de Jonquières, 30127 Bellegarde. Tel: 04 66 01 62 29, contact@domaine-pastouret.comwww.domaine-pastouret.com.

17 June 2009

Roussillon: Château Mossé, Sainte-Colombe de la Commanderie

Jacques Mossé has trimmed his picturesque estate to around 50 ha (125 acres) having ripped up "the less good parcels," and sells off any extra wine "not considered appellation standard." The distinctive red-clay vineyards climb gently up behind the twee village of Ste-Colombe, neighbouring Thuir, and downhill towards Terrats. Jacques makes good traditional Roussillon styles, including complex aged 'vins doux naturels' (sweet fortified wines), and more 'contemporary' barrique influenced reds.
The first three wines here were tasted in his cellar on 31/1/06; there are more filed under "wines of the moment" (Mossé dry Muscat and rosé) and below. These wines are easy to find in local restaurants and wine shops, although he doesn't export that much.

2003 Côtes du Roussillon tradition (Syrah, Grenache & Carignan) - nice maturing nose, sweet and perfumed; the palate's still firmly textured, rounded out by quite concentrated fruit. €5 85+
2003 Temporis (80% Syrah aged in barriques) - spicy coconut oak aromas set the scene for lightly choco texture, good depth of fruit too; more supple than the tradition yet still structured and long. 87-89
2003 Le Carignan - appealing rustic ripe cherry aromas, lovely depth of 'sweet' fruit then firmer and more powerful on the finish. 90+ 

Tasted July 2006:
2005 Le Rosé, Côtes du Roussillon (13%) - nice chunky oily textured style, less perfumed than some but more serious on the palate; drink this with an anchovy salad. €5 85-87
Tasted summer 2007:
2006 Le Rosé, Côtes du Roussillon (13%) - similar to the 05 but a little tighter fresher and more refined even. Still a foodie rosé though. 87
Tasted June 2009 over dinner at Can Marty restaurant, Thuir:
2007 Le Rosé - still drinking well with nice ripe red fruits and oily texture v bit of weight and freshness. Pretty good with duck and steak even. 87
2008 Le Rosé...

Domaine Mossé, 66300 Sainte-Colombe de la Commanderie. Tel: Tel 04 68 53 08 89, fax 04 68 53 35 13; chateau.mosse@worldonline.frwww.chateau-mosse.com.

01 June 2009

Undiscovered Spain: Castilla y León

"The vast evocative Castilla & León region, which lies roughly between Madrid and the north coast stretching almost from Rioja across to Galicia and Portugal, isn't exactly "undiscovered," for Spanish wine lovers at least. Hip Ribera del Duero needs little introduction and other areas such as Toro (for reds) and Rueda (for whites), which are found to the east, south and west of Valladolid, appear to have gained some ground in the recognition stakes in the UK and US. But on this winery tour..."
CLICK HERE for the full works (at the bottom of this long Spanish archive page)...

"Saucy winery fresco @ Zamoranas"
by Brett Jones


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