André and Virginie Gil had nearly finished the harvest, with just one plot of old vines left to pick, and they thought the quantity was higher than average and the quality very good, with healthy grapes. Altogether they have 30 hectares of vines around the village of Trouillas, with the usual southern quintet of Grenache, Cinsaut, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Syrah, and for white wine, Grenache Blanc and Gris, Macabeo, Roussanne, and both Muscat d’Aléxandrie and Muscat à petits grains. They have a new cellar on the edge of the village, and there was a nice buzz of activity.
André’s grandfather was a painter, André Susplugas, and one of his paintings inspired the name of the estate, and his great grandfather – Joseph Sébastien Pons was a poet. After a wander round the cellar, we tasted through the range.
2014 Muscat Sec, Côtes Catalanes – 6.00€
Muscat à petits grains. Fresh pithy Muscat nose. And on the palate some acidity and quite soft grapey fruit, with a hint of sweetness on the finish, avoiding the bitterness that you sometimes get with Muscat.
In the vineyard they practice lutte raisonnée; André admitted that organic viticulture really only tempts them as a question of public opinion. He thought there was a conflict between France and the rest of Europe about organic viticulture. Who would control it? Who would be the 'chef des bios' ?
2014 Tradition T14 Côtes du Roussillon – 7.00€
A blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. Light colour. Quite rounded ripe and soft. Floral white blossom. Easy drinking.
2014 Cuvée Jena-Sebastien Pons – 15.000€
90% Grenache blanc with some Macabeo fermented in new wood, and then aged for 6 – 9 months. Rounded buttery nose, and quite firm oak. Youthful and tight knit. I wondered how it would develop. The oak seemed quite drying and the palate not so harmonious.
2014 Charackter, Côtes du Roussillon – 18.00€
Pure Roussanne fermented in 600 litre acacia barrel and then élevage for 6 – 7 months. A little colour. The wood is well integrated, giving some depth and balance. Rounded, with white blossom and good body. Nicely harmonious.
2014 Tradition T14, Côtes du Roussillon Rosé – 7.00€
Syrah and Grenache. The Grenache is saigné and the Syrah pressed. Orange pink colour. Quite a rounded, ripe nose and a full ripe palate, Quite vinous and harmonious.
2014 Jean-Sebastien Pons rosé – 9.50€
An experiment. Nearly all Mourvèdre, that is saigné. Fermented in acacia with a further three months élevage. Quite a bright pink. Quite firm and structured. Some raspberry fruit and a firm finish. Works nicely.
T14 Rouge, Côtes du Roussillon – 8.50€
Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Medium young colour. Dry peppery nose. Quite a ripe rounded palate, and quite a soft finish. Easy drinking.
2013 Cuvée Jean-Sébastien Pons - 12.50€
Carignan, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre with 11 months élevage in wood, a little new and a little in a one year old barrel. Some spicy oak. Quite rounded and ripe, with some spice, but the finish was slightly drying.
2013 Charackter – 22.00€
Grenache Noir – the idea is something really exceptional for the vintage. The 2009 was also pure Grenache, while 2011 was Syrah and Grenache, and 2012 and 2014 pure Syrah. 15 months élevage in new wood. Quite a light colour. Spice and oak on the nose. Quite a sturdy ripe palate. Quite rich and a tad alcoholic on the finish, but not too heavy. Still quite young.
2014 Corto – 7.00€
An experiment with American oak chips. 70% Syrah and 30% Carignan Medium colour. Quite tannic but also quite sweet with some vanilla. André made a comment about the pouvoir seducteur of the American oak. I was not so sure.
And asked about projects, André immediately replied ‘more fun. To carry on with what they have begun. Their first vintage was 2000 and the first vintage in the new (ish) cellar 2009. He is considering a sparkling wine, from Grenache and Roussanne. And they hold concerts in the cellar on Thursday evenings in the summer.
And then we finished with some Vin Doux:
2013 Muscat de Rivesaltes, 8.90€
A blend of the two Muscats, muted at 95 – 100 gms/l residual sugar. Muscat de Rivesaltes is the least sweet of all the vin doux, and indeed this did not taste especially sweet, but rounded and honeyed.
2009 Muscat de Rivesaltes, Collection – 21.00€
Muscat is usually sold young, but this has been aged in wood so that it is amber in colour, and presented in a whisky bottle. Firm and nutty with orange fruit on the nose, and a honey palate, and much nuttier than the young wine. Very smooth with good depth.
2011 Rivesaltes Ambré.
Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris with some Muscat. At least 36 months in old barrels left outside. Lovely amber colour. A lemony note on the nose. Lemon and honey and a fresh note on the finish. Mutage in barrel The fresh fruit goes slightly confit on the finish, and nicely so.
2008 Rivesaltes Tuilé – 13.00€
Grenache Noir, with at least 3 years in wood. Tawny colour with a brick rim. Dry nutty fruit – dates and raisins, liquorice and walnuts. Quite firm body with medium weight, making a delicious finale; I can never have enough of this style of Rivesaltes.