Monday, 13 February 2012

TASTING ROUSSILLON CHEZ RAEBURN FINE WINES

Raeburn Fine Wines shop in Edinburgh comes into the category of ‘once visited, never forgotten’. I had never seen quite so many bottles crammed into such a small space ..... and what bottles. So when an invitation arrived for a tasting in London, I accepted with alacrity. This was no ordinary tasting, but a series of verticals from some of the many fine estates that they follow. There was Dry River from New Zealand, the most delicious Pouilly Fuissé from Saumaize-Michelin, some amazing Ribolla Gialla from Josko Gravner - wines that are aged on their skins in amphora for eight months – some elegant Nebbiolo from Luca Roagna and some extraordinary sherries and Pedro Ximenez from Lorenzo de Soto. And for the purposes of this blog, an estate in Roussillon that was unknown to me: Clot de l’Origine in the village of Maury.

This is one of the many new estates of the village. Marc Barriot made his first vintage in 2004. Unfortunately the bad weather had kept him in France, so he was unavailable for questions at the tasting. Apparently he studied at Toulouse and worked in Bandol for ten years before settling in Roussillon. He has 17 different plots, totaling 10.5 hectares, not just in Maury, but also in nearby villages, Calce, Estagel, Montner and Latour de France. All are farmed biodynamically. What I really loved about the red wines was their wonderful freshness, that is relatively atypical for Roussillon. But first there were white wines, Les Quilles Libres. Prices are Raeburn Fine Wines’ retail price, but not every vintage is available.

2010 Les Quilles Libres, Côtes Catalanes
A blend of Grenache Gris and Blanc,
Light golden colour. Quite a rich resinous nose. Very texured, with layers of flavours. Notes of dry honey; a dry but rich palate. Lovely mouth feel. It was a great start to the whole tasting.

2009 - £18.50
Grenache Gris, Côtes Catalanes
A more delicate nose, compared to the 2010. Drier, more herbal notes on the nose. And the palate was tighter, less resinous, with more acidity. A dry finish, and again some intriguing layers of flavour.

2008 – There were two wines from the 2008 vintage, each with a slightly different élevage.
Lot 1 - £17.50
This is how Marc explained the vinification process, by email: Pressing on 7th September and the clear juice goes into two 400 litre barrels. The wine is aged until end of May in barrel, and then transferred in tank without fining and filtration, and left to settle for 2 months. He usually adds 20 mg of sulphur at that time. Bottling is done by hand in August, and then the wine is left to settle for ten months before release.

Delicate herbal nose. Lightly nutty palate; elegantly rich, with good acidity. Elegantly balanced, with a fresh mineral finish. The oak is beautifully integrated.

Lot 3
Was kept in old Bandol tonneaux for three months. Quite a firm nose. Curiously I found a touch of newer oak on the nose, compared to Lot 1. Altogether tighter, firmer and more youthful. A tight knit and structured palate, with possibly longer ageing potential.

2007
Light golden. Rich and resinous on the palate. Good fruit, with layers of flavour. Evolving beautifully, but with quite an oaky finish.

2006
Light amber colour. Lovely dry nutty mineral notes on the nose, and even more so on the palate. Very good acidity. And very intriguing. One of those wines that keeps you guessing.

And then on to the reds, which were either Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Côtes du Roussillon, or in one instance just plain vin de table. And there was also a Côtes Catalanes. Essentially the wines are a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah.

2010 Soif de Plaisir
Medium colour. Fresh red fruit on the nose. Quite a firm mineral palate with good fruit, supple tannins and a dry finish. The hallmark of these wines was elegance, comparing favourably to some of the more opulent and alcoholic wines that can come from Roussillon.

2009 Soif de Plaisir - £14.50
Light delicate nose contrasting with a richer fuller palate. Quite a dry leathery note on the palate, and a touch of warmth. Quite a firm finish.

2008 - £13.99
Medium colour. Quite an elegant nose, with elegant red fruit. Drinking very nicely, with some firm dry fruit and a touch of minerality. Very satisfying with lots of nuances to discover.

2007
Good colour. Quite a rich nose, but quire full and leathery. Nicely maturing fruit, dry and leathery with quite a rich mouth-filling finish.

2006
Medium colour. Quite a firm stony mineral nose. Again quite a firm palate; mineral notes. Quite tight knit with a dry leathery note and good depth and a long finish.

2005
Good depth of fruit on the nose, quite rich and leathery, with rich dry spice on the palate and some lovely fruit. Drinking very well now.

2004
Côtes Catalanes - £11.99
Medium colour. Quite a fresh spicy nose, with more mature, leathery notes on the palate. Quite a firm finish, and drinking very well.

www.vin-de-l-origine.com

www.raeburnfinewines.com

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