A chance meeting chez some neighbours led to tasting of Domaine Vinci yesterday evening. Simon Stoye is a shareholder in Domaine Vinci, a Roussillon estate run by Olivier Varichon. The name may be familiar from the sparkling wine producers of Savoie, Varichon & Clerc. And why do you move to Roussillon from Savoie? Simple; the weather is so much better. Olivier has vines between the villages of Estagel and Espira, and also at a higher altitude of 600 metres at Eus, near Prades. He works organically and always relies on natural yeast and uses a minimum amount of sulphur in the cellar. The name of the estate comes from his wife Emmanuelle’s surname. The very first vintage was 2002, when they made just 1000 bottles, and 2004 was their first commercial vintage, but quantities are still pretty small. The geology of Roussillon is very mixed, so there is granite in the vineyards, as well as clay and limestone, and schist.
2012 Cuvée Roc, Côtes Catalanes
Olivier treats this cuvée as a second wine, but with the precise blend depending on the vintage. There is always 50% Carignan, to which Grenache was added in 2012. This has wonderful ripe fruit on both nose and palate. It was really succulent with spicy fruit and supple tannins, and very ready to drink, even though it is still quite young. The elevage is in vat rather than barrel.
2011 Cuvée Roc, Côtes Catalanes
Mourvèdre and Carignan. This is quite different. Although Carignan always constitutes 50% of the blend, the final mix varies from year to year. This was firmer on nose, more viandé, from the Mourvèdre, with drier firmer spice, and on the palate a tannic steak, with some firm fruit. It was much more youthful on the palate than the 2012.
2010 Cuvée Rafalot, Côtes Catalanes
Pure Carignan. The vines are 125 years old. The fermenting juice spends three to five weeks in cement vats on the skins, and then 18 to 24 months in barriques. Deep young colour. Rich, ripe and dense with some leathery notes on the nose. More perfumed on the palate, but also quite tannic and leathery.
2008 Cuvée Rafalot, Côtes Catalanes
Deep young colour. Ripe, dense and rich. A bit leathery on the nose, and again more perfumed on the palate. Quite firm tannins and some leathery notes. Also a touch of sweetness and a slight prickle. NOt as harmonious as the 2010.
2007 Cuvée Rafalot, Côtes Catalanes
Deep colour. Some rounded ripe fruit on both nose and palate. A hint of sweet chocolate. Ripe fruit balanced by firm tannins. Despite the richness there was also a note of elegance.
2004 Cuvée Rafalot, Côtes Catalanes
Deep young colour. Quite an elegant understated nose, with some black fruit, and also on the palate, with a sweet note. Quite ripe and rounded, very characterful, with an elegant finish. I think I liked this best of the four, possibly because it was also the oldest.
2005 Cuvée Coste, Côtes Catalanes
A blend of Mourvèdre and Carignan. Deep colour. Some spice on the nose, and some meaty viandé notes from the Mourvèdre. Quite a structured palate, quite rich and dense, but with a certain mineral freshness. Quite firm and structured with ripe fruit. Needs more ageing. How will it develop?
2009 Cuvée Inferno, Côtes Catalanes
Pure Grenache. Deep young colour. Very dense ripe rich nose. Very concentrated and ripe, with supple tannins. Lots of chocolate fruit, and almost port like with a sweet finish. 14.5⁰.
2008 Cuvée Inferno, Côtes Catalanes
Again pure Grenache. Quite a dense rich nose, with some sweet rich fruit on the palate. Dense and ripe; supple and rich. Again almost port-like, but this is the region that produces France’s answer to port. But I think I prefer my table wines drier.
2008 Cuvée Coyade, Côtes Catalanes Blanc
Macabeu, Grenache Blanc and Carignan Blanc. A little colour. Quite a full resinous nose. Quite rich with herbal and mineral notes on the palate. Good acidity and firm minerality, with a dry oxidative note.
2007 Cuvée Coyade, Côtes Catalanes Blanc
Again Macabeu, Grenache Blanc and Carignan Blanc. I thought this was more elegant, with quite firm minerality on both nose and palate. And some lovely long fruit with good acidity on the palate. Very intriguing, with some ageing potential. What a pity there is virtually none left.
The wines are available Enmore Wine, the company that Simon Stoye has set up in the UK in able to sell the wines.