Quick & Easy Guide to the wines of the Roussillon
Become a connoisseur of all things Catalan.
Roussillon, often appended to the Languedoc, has a distinct climate and culture of its own. This former principality of Catalonia is now the French département Pyrenées-Orientale, but its inhabitants remain fiercely Catalan. Beginning at Perpignan and ending at the Spanish border in the Pyrenees, these fertile soils produce an abundance of fruit and excellent wine. The region produces 90% of France’s Vin Doux Naturel, fortified sweet wine.
Area Under Vine:
25,000 hectares under vine, 80% on slopes up to altitudes of 600m.
Banyuls, Maury, Muscat de Rivesaltes, Collioure, Côtes du Roussillon, but there are also some terrific (dry) wines made in the IGPs of Côtes Catalanes and Côte Vermeille.
Grenache Noir, Grenache blanc, Muscat and Macabeo.
Ferrer-Ribière, La Tour Vieille, Parcé Frères, Gauby, Cazes, Guy and Jean-Marc Lafage and Château Mossé.
Anchovies (from Collioure), piments (hot peppers), chapon de mer farci au pulpe (capon stuffed with octopus), gardiane (beef stew with rice) and fresh tomme blanche (goat’s cheese).
Restaurants we like:
Les Templiers, Au 5ème Péché (both in Collioure), Casa Sansa (Perpignan) and El Bisbe (Céret).
Famous people from the region:
François Arago (astronomer, physicist and liberal politician), Menachem Meiri (Catalan rabbi), Aristide Maillol (sculptor and painter) and French ‘rugbymen’ Nicolas Mas and Jo Maso.
Things to do:
Windsurf into the port in Collioure, watch USA Perpignan or Catalan Dragons play rugby (union / league), check out the Palace of the Kings of Majorca, soak in the light on the sandy beaches of the Côte Vermeille, take the narrow-gauge Petit Train Jaune from Villefranche-de-Conflent to Latour-de-Carol on the Spanish border or witness La Procession de la Sanch – the Good Friday parade of red-hooded penitents in Perpignan.
Banyuls NV: Domaine La Tour Vieille.
Vin des Cotes Catalan’ Grenache’ blanc: Domaine Ferrer-Ribière.