I first discovered Arnaud Pelegry’s wines from Domaine des Vents about four years ago and go back each year to taste them at the Paris salon. They are always a treat. It is fascinating to see how the range is developing; sadly so far circumstances have conspired against a cellar visit, but I will keep trying. Arnaud comes from Bordeaux, but enjoys the freedom that you can have in Roussillon. Bordeaux would be too constraining for him. His vineyards are in the Fenouillèdes part of Roussillon, around the village of St. Paul de Fenouillèdes, which allows for vin de pays or Côtes du Roussillon. And this year he started making Vin Doux, a Muscat de Rivesaltes, and also a Maury, but that was not available for tasting.
2006 Alta Blanc is a humble vin de table from Grenache blanc. 18.00€
It is solid oaky and the oak also dominates the palate, but none the less there are also intriguing hints of aniseed, appropriately as the derivation of Fenouillèdes is fennel, which abounds in the region. The palate is quite dense and smoky. It seems very young and it will be intriguing to see how it develops.
2008 Rosé, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes – 6.00€
A blend of Grenache Noir and Syrah. Quite a bright orange pink; rich and rounded on the nose, with fresh ripe fruit on the palate. Quite mouth filling. Definitely a food rosé.
2005 Aquilon Rouge, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes – 7.50€
A blend of Grenache Noir and Carignan.
Good colour. Quite solid, dense leathery fruit on the nose, with a ripe rounded palate. Rich and warming, especially on a cold winter’s day - and ready to drink.
2005 Clos des Vents, Côtes du Roussillon - 12.00€
You need three grape varieties for the appellation Côtes du Roussillon and this is comprised of Grenache Noir and Carignan, with just ten per cent of Syrah. There is some solid, dense oak on both nose and palate, balanced with ripe rounded fruit on the palate, with a fleshy structured finish.
2005 Alta, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes – 18.00€
From hundred year old vines, Grenache Noir and Carignan. A deep colour. Quite a sweet oaky nose; this has spent three years in barrel and was bottled in the spring of 2009. The oak lingers on the palate too, with some solid dense young fruit. It promises well, but needs time.
2005 Muscat de Rivesaltes Muse K – 8.50€ for 50 cl bottle
It’s unusual to have a Muscat with a bit of bottle age; you tend to think: drink as young as possible, but no, Arnaud reckons that Muscat does keep and that it will become quite confit and concentrated, and nicely so. This was fresh and lemony, rounded and honeyed, with a slightly bitter Muscat finish.
And then he gave me his 2007 version to try. This will probably be a vin de table, as it is a late harvest Muscat, with no added alcohol. He picked the grapes when the potential alcohol was at 21°– 22° rather than the 16° required for a vin doux. It has spent eighteen months in wood, and has some rounded orange flavours, and was rich and concentrated. 'This is much more satisfying; much more creative', observed Arnaud. He is not one to stand still.