"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

14 July 2011

Wines of Lebanon in London

Wines of Lebanon had an impressive and suitably Mediterranean presence, for this blog and its vague themery (enhanced by a Middle Eastern twist of course), at this year's London International Wine Fair. The result: several new winery "profiles" & updates with nearly 50 wine reviews featuring Musar, Karam, Ixsir, Ksara, St. Thomas, Coteaux du Liban, Tourelles and Wardy... Read on (goes to Lebanon page in "more wine words").

I've also brought everything else Lebanese together on this page previously published on 'old' WineWriting.com (but not yet dead...), including:
Winery snapshot: Heritage... latest vintages reviewed March 2008.
Wine touring in Lebanon November 2005: Beirut, Baalbek and Bekaa.
Lebanese food by John Salvi MW.

Photo = Cedar and moon, copyright Jim Budd

Domaine les Enfants Sauvages, Opoul / Fitou

Update: I chatted and tasted with Carolin and Nikolaus at the first "natural" wine fair held in London back in May (click for more info); there's a bit of detail and philosophy on "the wild children" below scribbled after a laid-back visit to their cellar a couple of years ago. These wines sell for £10-£15 in the UK available via their agent Dynamic Vines; and from two US importers: Williams Corner Wine in Charlottesville, Virginia, and another one whose name escapes me in Boston. They're all monikered as vin de pays des Cotes Catalanes (read on for explanation...) and 'scored' using my now world-famous 1-2-3 'system' (see blurb, right hand column):
2009 Cool Moon white (Grenache blanc, Grenache gris, Carignan blanc) - very appley and nutty nose, almost fino/cider like; perhaps a tad too much so as it's verging on acetic, but not quite... that's "natural" for you.
2007 Les Enfants Sauvages red (Grenache, Carignan) - no wood: nice dark berry with fruity vs tangier side, easy going and ripe style with maturing edges, soft elegant finish. 1
2007 Roi des Lézards (Carignan) - aged 2 years in large casks: perfumed ripe blueberry vs liquorice hints, again attractive maturing fruit and tannins, subtle flourish. 1-2


Hesitating whether to head up this profile as Roussillon or Languedoc, since the "wild children," aka Carolin and Nikolaus Bantlin and sons (not so savage really), have a little winery/cellar underneath and adjoining their house up the hill in the village of Fitou itself; but the wild-child vineyards lie just over the 'border' towards Opoul, which is what counts at the end of the day if we must locate them on paper, so to speak. Carolin and Nikolaus' story is the kind-of love story I've written about before on this site, but I certainly don't mind telling it again. They fell in love with a beautiful place frozen in time, which was the catalyst for leaving their native Germany and settling in the area as soon as they could. So, in 1999 they bought some old vineyards surrounded by dry scented scrubland a few kilometres inland from Fitou and an elderly house in the village, which was refitted in 2004 to accommodate a new cellar.
Right from the start, like many young couples from elsewhere turned independent growers, they decided to nurture the eight ha (20 acres) of vines that "came with the land" as naturally as possible, using that "new-old approach" as they call it and by extension a minimalist winemaking touch as well. As their goal was to be certified organic (they are, as well as practising certain biodynamic methods), they realised - encouraged by Olivier Pithon among others - it didn't make a lot of sense to carry on being co-op growers (2001-2) and waving goodbye to their treasured grapes once picked. So, they took the plunge, went back to school and fused a mini-winery into their home, as I said. Good job too, otherwise these lovely wines (notes below) might not ever have seen the light of day. All the promising 2008s were tasted from vat or barrel (unfinished obviously) in March 2009.
2008 Carignan blanc - attractive fresh acid structure, tight and long palate; the barrel fermentation doesn't overpower it at all.
2008 Grenache blanc - slightly more exotic fruit aromas, again fresh tight and long in the mouth with a tad of light coconut flavour / texture.
2008 Grenache gris - fatter and peachier with apricot notes too vs nice taut mouthfeel and framework.
2008 Grenache rosé (barrel-fermented) - rounded and full-bodied rather than overtly fruity, long dry finish. Unusual.
2008 Carignan (60%+) Grenache Mourvèdre blend - six days maceration with foot-treading. Delicious black fruits and spice, firm framework on the mouth, fresh with lively fruit and attractive tannins. Lovely.
2008 Carignan (90%) Syrah - more perfumed with enticing blueberry fruit, 'sweet' and ripe vs tangy and tight, rounded tannins again.
2006 Roi des Lézards (Carignan Grenache Mourvèdre 14%) - nice "vinous" fruit and mouthfeel (wine like!) with very light chocolate / coconut texture; cherry and black olive notes, turning savoury & leathery vs vibrant and refreshing, solid yet rounded finish. Yum. €12 88-90
Muscat Vin Doux Naturel - very aromatic orange peel and grape nose; zingy and zesty with lovely fresh bite vs quite sweet and lush. 87+



10-12 rue Gilbert Salamo, 11510 Fitou. Tel: 04 68 45 69 75, www.les-enfants-sauvages.com.

29 June 2011

Guest article by Elliot Majere

"How to find the best red wine for you..."

"There's no one size fits all approach to red wine and one person's idea of the perfect tipple may be absolutely undrinkable to someone else. Red wine is, to most people, something of an acquired taste in itself and it can be difficult to get to grips with all those rich flavours and bold tannins. While many beginners to the world of wine will have little difficulty finding a white wine that suits their taste, reds present much more of a challenge, but once you have discovered the types of wine that work for you, you will be on track to a lifetime of exciting wine discoveries. Most people who dislike red wine do so because of the perceived 'heaviness' of the drink, which is particularly true of very tannic wines, such as the famous French Clarets.
However, while many red wines are indeed a little overwhelming on the palate, there are plenty of more easy drinking red wines on the market that are often a better introduction to the genre. While French wine is considered by many people to be the 'best' wine, this is simply a matter of taste and many red wine drinkers find that the typical French wine is too heady by half and that the wines of the New World are easier to drink.
The New World is certainly the best place to look for light or medium-bodied reds with a fruity flavour that can make them deliciously drinkable. With comparatively low tannin levels and relatively high sugar content, these wines - sometimes described as 'fruit forward' - often appeal to people who think they don't like red wine. Dismissed by snootier sections of the wine world, at their best they can be very good indeed, are generally easy-drinking and make good party wines. Generally made from Pinot Grapes, some good examples of this type of wine are emerging from California.
For something that is a little bolder, without being overwhelmingly tannic, you might want to consider the earthy wines such as Pinot Noir and Syrah. French wine from the Rhone region also produces noteworthy earthy wines. These wines are generally medium bodied or medium-full bodied and have notes that are denser than the fruitier wines. If you are planning a dinner party, an earthy wine is often a good bet, as these tend to pair very well with a wide range of foods.
If you are in the market for something bolshier still, you will enjoy experimenting with bold, full-bodied wines (the two terms essentially mean the same thing and 'big' is another term used to describe this type of wine). The classic grape for making full bodied wine is Cabernet Sauvignon, but French wine is not the only type that falls into this category. Far from it. An Argentinean Malbec can be a seriously bold wine, while Zinfandel grapes also make some seriously big wines.
When it comes to enjoying wine, half the fun is in experimenting with different styles and taste profiles. Once you find something that truly appeals, ask your wine dealer for recommended similar bottles and you will soon be developing a knack for finding wines that will suit you."

Text by Elliot Majere with sponsored links (EveryWine). WineWriting.com does not vouch for the contents of this article.

Roussillon: Domaine Vinci, Estagel / Espira de l'Agly

Latest vintages, new wines and some old favourites from Domaine Vinci tasted on different occasions in 2013. Sulphite levels mentioned, not for geek value but because some people are interested. The trend for recent vintages onwards of Olivier and Emmanuelle's wines is "no added sulphites, no fining or filtering" for reds and just low sulphite additions to whites. Read on for much more...

2009 Rafalot (late 19th century Carignan; total sulphites 6 mg/l) – wild smoky and dark with liquorice vs crunchier fruit profile, lush and extracted although with nice tannins and sweet fruit.
2008 Coyade white (75% Macabeu plus Carignan blanc and Grenache blanc; 8 mg/l SO2) – floral Fino sherry and hazelnut nose, appley with intense bite and length vs creamy lees texture and power, complex finish.
2008 Inferno (Grenache, 9 mg/l SO2) – 13% abv with a little residual sugar. Maury-esque with dried smoky fruit, punchy yet has fresh bite too. Wow.
2012 Roc (Grenache, Carignan; aged in vat only) – juicy fruity cassis and liquorice, tasty crunchy vs riper fruit finish with a little bite.
2011 Roc (Mourvèdre, Carignan) – darker fruit and funkier profile, smoky with black olive notes, firmer fuller finish.
Where to get them: jump to the bottom of this long page.

Update May/June 2011. Read on below for a Vinci profile and notes/reviews spanning 2007 to 2010 (years, that is, not vintages). I caught up with co-owner cum winegrower/maker Olivier Varichon at the first ‘natural’ wine fair held in London (click there for more info) and tried/retried these little 'natural' gems (again, scroll down for detail on varieties, where from, where available etc.), judged with the now world-famous 1-2-3 'scoring system' (see blurb, right hand column):
2006 Coyade white – maturing appley nutty aromas/flavours, rounded and creamy mouth-feel vs still crisp and zingy, very nice now. 1-2
2006 Rafalot red – maturing dried fruits with savoury vs liquorice tones, delicious complex fruit with style and balance. 2-3
2007 Rafalot red – ripe cherry and liquorice, concentrated and lush vs crunchy side, lovely tannins and length. 2
2005 Coste red – resin-y wild edges vs concentrated sweet dark liquorice-tinged fruit, then meaty tones on its long powerful yet classy finish. 2-3
2009 Coste rosé (Mourvèdre, Carignan) – powerful Bandol rosé style, zesty with light red fruits vs oomph and rounder finish. 1-2

You'll find Olivier Varichon and Emmanuelle Vinci's garage-cellar cum office located, unobtrusively, on the main road out of Estagel heading towards Maury. But call first if you want to visit, as they're just as likely to be elsewhere lost among their different parcels of vineyard in the Agly Valley. These four plots all have their own identity and each wine is named after them, whether a varietal or blend. In total, seven hectares are planted with Macabeu, Grenache Blanc and Carignan Blanc (now rare) for the whites; and red Grenache, Carignan (some of which dates back to the late 19th Century - see below) and a not bad amount of Mourvèdre too.
Olivier explained his philosophy: "we decided to work only with so-called local varieties to avoid any style homogenisation by having Syrah or others like Cabernet Sauvignon." All their wines are labelled as vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes, as "appellation laws are restrictive and a typically French absurdity!" coming from a slightly anarchic French winemaker, who did admittedly work in the wine biz in London for several years. He carried on letting off steam: "French wine regulations are a lung cancer for any business, and the AOC system just makes it more confusing for wine consumers. We need to keep it simple using branding and prioritising education on the Roussillon region and its wines."
The following frank comments have been taken out of context a little, due to lack of space, but you get his point: "Honesty isn't the grape-growing industry's forte, so how can you recommend a label that unfortunately doesn't necessarily reflect what the wine or terroir really is. Apologies for sticking the boot in to our viticultural hypocrisy!" Vinci's vineyards are farmed organically as "by and large, the environment gives us the freedom to. But being organic in the vineyard doesn't necessarily mean quality wine. You've got to follow through with the same logic..."


Wines below were tasted in March 2007 (and read on for annual updates, latest from Oct. 2010): all priced €20 in France; also available in the UK (approx £25, see bottom of page), Switzerland and Belgium.
2004 Coyade blanc - fresh floral tones set on hazelnut richness, nice mixture of oily rounded palate v zesty lemon and mineral bite. 87-89
2005 Coyade blanc (just bottled) - fresher chalkier style, milky with light toast v nice crispness, riper softer fruit than the 04; needs a few months to open up. 87-89
2004 Coste (Mourvèdre Carignan) - attractive dark fruit with black olive and gamey edges; herbal v 'sweet' flavours, elegant and ripe with tangy freshness v liquorice finish. 88-90
2004 Rafalot (Carignan, some of which dates from 1889!) - a bit smokier with more chocolate/coconut notes, perfumed black cherry/currant fruit; tighter firmer and more intense, fine length with light choc coating, needs a few years to express itself. 89-91
2004 Inferno (
Grenache at altitude) - a little closed up with light perfumed cherry, spice and liquorice; tighter palate still, lovely freshness and bite v power and rounded fruit, great length. 91-93
2006 Mourvèdre (vat sample) - deliciously perfumed fruit with black olive notes, fresh and peppery with pretty ripe tannins. Promising.


Vinci update 2009: I called in on loquacious and enthusiastic Olivier at the cellar in March and tasted, well, just about everything in tank and barrel plus the latest vintage releases in bottle! Very worthwhile trip that confirmed they - Olivier and Emmanuelle - really are making some of the most exciting wines in the Roussillon.
2006 Coyade white (Macabeu Grenache blanc Carignan blanc, 13.5%) - they blend the must of these three varieties before fermentation, unusually, let it settle out then drain into barriques for 12 months followed by 8 months in stainless tanks. Lightly toasty vs exotic and fat then dry and crisp; tight palate closing up a little, quite fine actually with appley tones vs yeast-lees richness, coconut spice and aniseed finish. 88+
2005 Coyade white - quirky maturing hazelnut and real cider aromas vs still perfumed floral and peachy; yeast-lees fatness vs steely, mineral, almost salty bite; full-bodied with oily texture, tasty and still quite fresh with very dry finish, spicy apple and aniseed too. 87-89
2006 La Coste (Mourvèdre Carignan 13%) - smoky liquorice and black olive tones; juicy and rich with nice crunchy fruit vs firm punchy mouthfeel, well-structured yet quite silky too with rustic fruit and wild herbs vs fine lively finish. 90
2006 Rafalot (very old Carignan, 13.5%) - perfumed floral blueberry, cassis and black cherry fruit vs smoky tobacco edges; delicious cherry fruit, very concentrated with tight acid / tannin framework although still attractively rounded, spicy long finish with lovely lingering wild fruit / herb cocktail. 92+
2007 Inferno (
Grenache tasted from 6 year-old barriques, will spend up to 18 months total, 14%) - toffee-ish & liquorice aromas turning meaty and savoury vs underlying 'sweetness'; chunky tannins vs fresh acidity, very dry long and promising finish. 90-92
2007 Rafalot (from barrel, 13%) - wild fruits with tobacco tinges, again meaty vs crunchy juicy fruit then floral cassis on the finish; delicious firm and dry palate with enticing coating of fruit and tannins, very long and quite fine really. 92+
2007 Mourvèdre - smoky yet perfumed with black olive notes, lovely liquorice fruit vs tangier and wilder side; very firm texture at the moment although has nice meaty concentration and dark fruit finish. Superb although not to everyone's taste! 93-95
2008 Rafalot and Inferno were both looking very good with dense fruit and fine dry silky tannins and 'sweet vs savoury' style. I look forward to trying all the 2008s again after a bit of barrel ageing.
2004 Coste (Mourvèdre Carignan) - powerful, complex, spicy and earthy with wild herb and savoury/leathery dark olive notes vs lively cassis & blueberry fruit; punchy palate with fresh acidity and dry bite still vs juicy spicy fruit, big and rounded turning savoury vs dark chocolate on the finish. Dense mouthful of wine yet multifaceted and maturing nicely into a kind of traditional Bandol style. Good with pan-fried lamb steak. 88-90


2010 updates
1. Olivier had the following new and older vintages up for tasting at the enigmatically named Salon du X: it's not that much of a mystery, actually, a tasting organised by his agent Xavier Peyrot des Gachons with a dozen Languedoc & Roussillon winegrowers present - there were originally 10, I think - hence the X. That was back in April at Domaine Gayda's impressive winery & restaurant complex found between Limoux and Castelnaudary. Refer to wines above for varieties, as they do more or less the same blends each year for each wine; hence the name of a wine = the name of the parcel.
2006 Coyade white - wild lees-edged nose with intense hazelnut and aniseed; concentrated and lively vs oily nutty texture, powerful and long. Lovely. 88-90
2005 Coste - very meaty with black olive notes, smoky and rich vs grip; very nice now although still pretty solid. 89-91

2004 Rafalot (sampled a few weeks earlier at a tasting of 100% Carignans) - slightly grainy tones vs quite lush blueberry, smoky earthy vs rich and spicy; nice rounded fruity mouth-feel yet still structured and quite tight, maturing vs punchy with subtle depth and spicy finish. 89+
2007 Rafalot (sampled a few weeks earlier at a tasting of 100% Carignans) - quite pungent reduced nose at first (had just been bottled I think), which did slowly lift off revealing juicy "sweet" fruit vs crunchier herby spicy profile; again concentrated and powerful, hopefully that "awkward" side should sort itself out in bottle...
2007 Rafalot - still a touch reduced or something on the nose. Moves on to lively crunchy berry fruit, concentrated and chunky with "sweet/savoury" profile, spicy and firm with tight finish needing 2-3 years to open up. Wow. 88-90
2007 Inferno - rich almost cooked nose, concentrated and meaty/leather with grippy solid mouth-feel vs lush and full-bodied. 90
2006 Rafalot - smoky liquorice notes vs cassis and blueberry; more elegant firm vs ripe profile, nice balance of full-on vs restrained. 90+


2. October 2010
Olivier and Emmanuelle had just finished picking when we called by, with Olivier describing it as a rather stressful and short vintage, to say the least. "We lost a lot this year," slightly gloomy but nevertheless characteristically enthusiastic, "...less than 50% of what we usually get!" This was thanks to strange weather throughout the growing season with huge wind during flowering (let alone the snow I've mentioned a few times beforehand back in March) followed by a vicious hailstorm followed by drought! Challenging, this winegrower/maker thing, even in a supposedly ideal climate for wine grapes. Apart from tasting some of their 2006/07/08 reds, it was also great to try four vintages of Vinci's Coyade (the 09 from barrel) side by side, which give me good reason to think this lovely white is already a Roussillon classic...
2006 Coyade (Macabeu/Grenache Blanc/Carignan Blanc 14%) - maturing nutty rich and exotic nose with nice lees edges, towards Riesling "petrol-y" almost too! Lush oily and mealy palate vs "mineral" aniseed and peach stone notes, developing well yet still has a certain freshness keeping it relatively youthful. 89-91
2007 (13%) - much less golden in colour with yeastier and lightly toastier tones; tighter less developed palate, intricate lees notes and very lively crisp and steely finish; nice balance of mouth-watering vs concentrated showing promise, needs a year to express itself. 89-91
2008 (just bottled) - closed up estery nose, more floral and nutty too; very crisp "mineral" mouth-feel with appley notes vs oily texture vs creamy toasty and hazelnut, closes up on the finish. Again v. promising, think quite fine Burgundy! 89+
2009 - quite yeasty nose (obviously), lovely and complex though; full-bodied buttery and nutty with nice refreshing balance, aniseed and mineral undertones vs quite lush finish. Could be pretty sensational... 90-92
2007 Rafalot (very old Carignan) - spicy and aromatic with wild fruits vs meaty earthy edges; quite lush vs complex (sulphide?) notes and crunchy berries, long and tight vs full and developing. 89-91
2006 - smokier with more tobacco and liquorice, spicy too; delicious "sweet/savoury" palate with attractive juicy vs dry texture, lovely tannins and maturing fruit. 92+
2006 Coste (Mourvèdre Carignan) - gorgeous nose, wild smoky and ripe with meaty leather touches yet still aromatic as well; intense concentrated mouth-feel with tasty meaty texture/flavour vs "sweet" and rounded vs dry finish. Star red. 92-94
2008 (100% Mourvèdre this vintage!) - wild aromatic and earthy with ripe black olive, liquorice, leather and pepper; firm and taut palate, intense and lively though with rich fruit underneath vs tight "chalky" finish. Promising too. 90-92+

2008 Inferno (Grenache) - very ripe and powerful nose, peppery and Porty 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!

Domaine Vinci's wines are available in London from Swig, Eminent Wines, Aubert & Mascoli and the Wine Library for about £25-£30 a bottle. US distributor: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant CA.
19 avenue du Dr Torreilles, 66310 Estagel. Tel: 04.68.52.04.99 / mobile: 06.18.49.11.21, www.domainevinci.com.

Roussillon: Domaine Matassa, Calce

Updated March 2014 - see below.

Matassa is the name of the first vineyard bought in 2002 by Tom Lubbe (originally from South Africa although has worked in a few countries), his wife Nathalie (Gérard Gauby's sister) and Sam Harrop MW (a New Zealander winemaking consultant based in London); which is now part of 14 biodynamically farmed ha (35 acres) located roughly in two spots. Around the village of Calce, where they live and where the cellar is, and a fair way west of here near Le Viviers on the Fenouilledes hills at over 500 metres altitude. Tom is rather sceptical about 'appellation' and prefers to label their wines as vin de pays (now IGP) Côtes Catalanes, which he believes "... has more resonance for us and others around here."
I took that comment and the ones in this paragraph from a survey done over three years ago, so he might have changed his mind on some of these ideas; but I doubt it (read on for more views in the 2011/13 updates below). When asked about plans afoot in the region to create new 'cru' appellation zones, he said: "I think more bureaucracy is not so desirable, but that particular villages or areas will create, re-create their own identities for the future." Arguably, this is already happening in Calce (Matassa, Gauby, Padié, Pithon etc). And on the topic of organics, is it really a major asset for the Roussillon in particular? "It should be," but obviously still difficult to convince everyone...

I tasted this first batch of wines with Tom at Millésime Bio wine fair 2010 in Montpellier. The "three trees" wines are a new, earlier drinking (and less expensive) range, by the way.
2009 three trees blanc (Macabeu, Carignan blanc, Vermentino) - nice juicy leesy style with lively crisp finish. 85
2008 Marguerite blanc (Muscat, Viognier) - very intense mineral notes vs rich exotic and spicy aromas/flavours; lovely length and bite vs concentrated fruit and creamy lees tones. 89+
2008 Matassa blanc (Grenache gris, Macabeu) - nutty cider aromas with again that intense mineral side vs oily, concentrated peachy and peppery. Wow. 90-92
2009 three trees Cabernet Franc - reduced notes on the nose (not a finished wine sample) but has attractive, spicy, leafy, tobacco edges and red fruit cocktail; appealing "sweet" vs spicy/savoury finish. 85+
2009 three trees Grenache / Carignan - enticing lively juicy style with liquorice flavours and soft peppery palate. 85+
2007 Romanissa rouge - also a tad reduced, leading on to firmer closed up palate; yet again shows delicious spicy liquorice leather and wild berry notes, intense powerful finish needing 1 to 2 years to come together. 90+
2006 Romanissa (mostly Grenache & Carignan + Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon) - slightly wild, volatile and complex nose; intense concentrated berries and spice, a tad of background oak adding texture, lively peppery finish turning meaty/savoury with hints of leather. 90-92


Update May/June 2011:
I caught up with Tom at the first ‘natural’ wine fair held in London (click there for more info). On the much talked-about issue of 'low-sulphite' winemaking (yawn), the show organiser wrote this in the catalogue: “For us, low sulphite levels means that the grower is ultimately aiming to add little or no SO2 (sulphur dioxide) at all… dependant (sic.) on the year.” Tom told me he sets a more technical level for this at “less than 20 milligrams per litre total SO2 in bottle,” which is readily measurable in a lab and about one-fifth to one-tenth of what might be in a ‘normal’ wine (and permitted). It's worth adding that all wine contains some sulphites, even if no SO2 is added, as a natural by-product of fermentation etc. Tom also talked about copper based treatments, the traditional ‘natural’ choice for combating e.g. a particular type of mildew, as copper (present in the human organism in minute quantities but toxic at higher levels) can hang around and pollute rivers. “In a well-run organic or biodynamic vineyard (i.e. not using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, working the soil in the old-fashioned way etc.), you don’t see a build up of copper… or a desert effect…” as a living soil manages to diffuse these solutions. And something else missing from the NWF’s manifesto is sulphur itself, which is also a mainstay of organic viticulture in a ‘natural’ form.

These wines are priced from about £6 to £20 in the UK, available via their agent Les Caves de Pyrène. Reviews feature my new 1 to 3 "scoring" system (see right hand column for explanation).
2009 Three Trees Le Cayrol white (Macabeu, Rolle, Chenin Blanc) – zesty mineral side with nutty edges, juicy fruit palate with fairly delicate yet tight finish. 1
2009 Three Trees Metairie Brugens red (Cabernet Franc) – herbal red pepper and soy sauce notes, juicy fruity vs crisper finish. 1
2009 Marguerite white (Muscat, Viognier) – quite rich and exotic peach/apricot fruit vs appley twist and mineral bite, attractive combo of these two varieties with fair substance too. 1-2
2008 Domaine Matassa white (Grenache gris, Macabeu) – toastier and ‘fatter’ with enticing hazelnut edges, tangy and intense too with good concentration, dry long and exciting finish. 2-3
2006 Domaine Matassa ‘Romanissa’ red (Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon) – maturing savoury nose with rich dried fruit, firm vs ‘sweet’ palate with a touch of grainy tannin and grip vs lovely maturing fruit. 2+
2008 L’Estanya red (Carignan) – intense ‘sweet/savoury’ style, black vs crunchier blue fruit cocktail, perfumed vs liquorice finish. 1+

Update: 2011 vintages sampled with Tom in London in 2013:
2011 Marguerite blanc (Muscat, Macabeu; total sulphites 12 mg/l) – nutty 'Fino' and apple notes, intense and tangy getting creamier and more hazelnut on the finish, long bite and quite elegant too.
2011 Matassa blanc (Grenache gris, Macabeu) - yeast lees notes and intense with aromatic vs richer fruit, concentrated and lush vs lees-y and appley bite, tasty and very long finish.
2011 Matassa red (Carignan, Lladoner Pelut, Mourvèdre and other varieties) - smoky yet 'inky', pretty wild fruity with soft blue fruits, pure and intense with nice freshness on the finish too.

Previous Matassa wines here (Vinisud show 2006).

10 Route d'Estagel, 66600 CalceTel: 04.68.64.10.13, www.matassawine.com.

'RED'

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