Recently, I had a wonderful opportunity to taste several wines from Roussillon, France. They all brought back fond memories of visiting the region and enjoying its beautiful wines and spirit.
2013 Domaine Cabirau Côtes du Roussillon
A blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Carignan.
Importer Dan Kravitz purchased a steep vineyard in Maury, a sub-appellation of Roussillon. The slopes of schist soil account for bright acidity and minerality in the wines.
This offering has a personality to spare. A classic Roussillon, it is a testimony to what the region can deliver. It offers plenty of fruit, black cherry cola, blackberry and Italian plum, as well as vibrant red fruit, a touch of spice, savory herbs and hints of cocoa. The tannins are soft and cohesive. Good structure and backbone of acidity carries through a solid core of the mid-palate and follows through to the juicy, peppery, satisfying finish.
This young, multifaceted and stylish blend is texturally and structurally sound and is a pleasure to consume.
2013 Gérard Bertrand Tautavel Cotes du Roussillon
Gérard Bertrand owns many notable vineyards in the South of France. Tautavel is a historic village in Roussillon, where the terraced, hillside vineyards are planted on gravelly limestone-rich soils.
2013 Tautavel is intense and vibrant. This medium-bodied wine features attractive bright red and black fruit aromatics. Raspberry, red currant, along with blackberry and black cherry is buttressed by spice, black pepper and hints of tobacco leaf. Tannins are soft and yet firm, and play well with good acidity. The finish is lengthy.
This highly approachable offering is straightforward yet deftly balanced and is a fun one to experience.
2013 Chateau Planeres La Romanie Côtes du Roussillon Les Aspres
Located in the heart of Roussillon, Château Planères is a 100-hectare estate that is meticulously farmed. Les Aspres is a sub-region of the Cotes du Roussillon appellation, known for producing high-quality reds.
A blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre and 10% Grenache.
The fruit comes from a rigorous selection of old-vine blocks, known for limestone soils that are well-drained. They are picked at maximum physiological ripeness and the wine is aged in barrel for a minimum of twelve months.
Sexy floral aromas, violets and star jasmine, gives way to a tight core of opulent black fruit and hints of seasoning. The palate is all about smooth texture and earthy, spicy notes, with hints of anise and game.
It is an assertive offering, with powerful flavors and sensations that are not overbearing.
2014 Domaine La Tour Vielle Banyuls Rimage
Typically, a blend of Grenache and Carignan, Banyuls is a fortified dessert wine that is a well-known French aperitif.
Vincent Cantié and Christine Campadieu organically farm vineyards planted on steep slopes, on schist soils, overlooking the sea, ravaged by the ferocious wind called “La Tramontagne.” This constant weather challenge ensures low yields and lack of disease. At harvest, the grapes are hand-carried down the steep mountain in baskets. Lots of hard work goes into crafting these remarkable wines.
Dark inky hue. Intense, jammy nose filled with chocolate-covered cherry, blackberry jam, cocoa nib, and sweet vanilla. The tannins are seamless and barely noticeable. The finish – long and fulfilling, filled with luscious stone fruit and cream.
This French version of the dessert wine is fun to drink as a standalone or pair with a dreamy chocolate dessert!
2011 Domaine Cazes Muscat de Rivesaltes Vin Doux Naturel
A blend of 50% Alexandria Muscat, 50% Petit Grain Muscat
Several fazes are used for making this wine. The grapes are split into three groups, some are pressed immediately upon racking, some are macerated for 24 hours at low temperatures, they are then pressed and racked. Fermentation is stopped halfway through, and alcohol is added. For the remaining grapes, stems and stalks are removed before they go into vats. Fermentation is stopped during the solid phase, by adding alcohol. The wine is blended when all the processes are finished.
Explosive aromatics of exotic tropical fruit, stone fruit, and bright citrus nose (kumquat?) fill the glass. Delicious now but can easily be cellared for several years, and will develop mature, sophisticated flavor profile.
2014 Michel Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila Haut Cote du Roussillon Blanc
It seems that any project the renowned Michel Chapoutier takes on, it turns to gold. True to form, his Roussillon Bila-Haut venture counts several exciting reds and a white in its portfolio.
Les Vignes de Bila Haut Cote Blanc is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Macabeo and Vermentino. Aromatically sound, it has plenty of citrus and tropical fruit (coconut) as well as a hints of salinity, all framed by solid acidity. Vibrant, energetic and refreshing, it invigorates the palate with its playful, engaging flavor profile.
It’s a sensational and ultra-versatile blend to experience!
2013 Michel Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone
A blend of 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah.
Aromas of black and blue fruit, anise and dried herbs. Good tannin structure. Hints of vanilla and baking spices. A lovely wine, rich in fruit, earth and subtle earthy notes. Lingering finish.