I tutored a tasting of Roussillon wines last night and it was very well received. The line up was good and really showed what an exciting and extraordinary wine region the Roussillon is and how it really deserves to emerge from under the commercial shadow of its Languedoc neighbour and to be much better known to UK consumers.
However, there were – by general agreement – two standout wines that I have not mentioned before. So I thought that I would draw them to your attention:
35% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 35% Carignan
I have been aware of M. Bertrand for some time and known that what he did can be pretty impressive. He is actually a Languedoc man, from the Coteaux du Languedoc and the son of one of the early prime movers in the creation of the various Cru appellations of the region – in case you are wondering, he is no relation to Plastic.
What Bertrand does is to spread the technical knowhow and modern approach of his winery around the region – some of the vineyards and estates that he uses he owns and some he oversees. Some, like this one, are partnership projects – with the Tautavel cooperatives in this instance.
Tautavel is effectively a Cru of Cotes du Roussillon and on this showing it truly deserves that status:
This wine is opaque with a vivid deep black red hue.
The nose was spicy and warmly herbal with pungent black fruit notes.
The palate was soft with supple tannins, rich spice and big blackberry fruit balanced by more savoury coffee and chocolate and a herbal, liquorice bitterness on the finish.
This was a really delicious wine, medium to full bodied with lots of flavour and a generous nature 89/100 points.
£7.99 from Waitrose – and only £5.99 right now (May 2010)
Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Blanc
How wonderful it was to have a Vin Doux Naturel this old – an Ambré must be aged for 30 months before release, which changes the colour to that oxidised caramel hue and Hors d’Age Rivesaltes wines have to be aged for a minimum of 6 years in barrel.
In all honesty I had hoped to avoid Muscat and to have a Grenache or Macabou wine, but the age and quality of this wine appealed even more and I am glad that I showed it. That simple Muscat character had completely gone leaving a really complex and delicious wine.
The nose was slightly caramelised with coffee notes and hints of orange.
The palate offered figs and prunes and honeysuckle and more coffee and the sort of caramel on the top of a creme brulée – but it was not sweet. The richness was balanced by a seam of clean acidity too.
This was one of the hits of the evening and is a stunning wine full of complexity, richness and finesse – a great wine.
Roussillon is in France, but this wine really shows the Catalan heritage of the region with an Iberian feel to it. The grapes are different, but it is not so very far removed from a great Oloroso sherry – 93/100 points.
£12.49 from Waitrose – 50cl bottle.