Côtes du Roussillon Wine
The appellation of Côtes du Roussillon covers the region south of Corbières (and Perpignan) down to the Spanish border. This is the sunniest region in France and therefore, perhaps unsurprisingly, the emphasis is on producing mid-weight, spicy wines with a generosity of southern fruit.
Denis Ferrer and Bruno Ribière, produce an excellent Côtes du Roussillon from a blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir and Syrah. It has a dark plum and damson bouquet, blackberry and bilberry core, peppery undertones and enough grip to support 3-5 years bottle age.
Ron Laughton and Michel Chapoutier are two celebrated wine-makers who also rated the climate and terroir of the Roussillon when they collaborated on their 'Agly Brothers' project at the beginning of the 21st Century. Based around the village of Latour de France, 30 kilometres north-west of Perpignan, Ron and Michel favour a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache Noir and produced their first vintage in 2004. Their Côtes du Roussillon now enjoys an international following seduced by its glossy dark fruit, fondant tannins, impressive concentration and 10-year (or longer) ageing potential.
Hervé Bizeul is a poacher-turned-gamekeeper or, more accurately, a sommelier-turned-wine-maker with invaluable experience at both ends on the fine wine spectrum. In 1997 - tired of tending tables and questing for a new challenge - he took on an ancient parcel of vines in the Agly river valley at Vingrau and, from challenging and cash-strapped beginnings, produced his first wine in 1998. Today Hervé's 'Le Clos des Fées' wines enjoy a loyal following at home and abroad and his total vine holdings now extend to over 30 hectares. His entry level 'Les Sorcières' bottlings are designed for 'buvabilité maximale' and, perhaps unsurprisingly, are hugely popular with the restaurant trade. The white is made from a blend of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Roussanne and Macabeo vinified in vat with no oak influence. With a wealth of bright stone fruit scents and flavours and a fresh acidity, it drinks well from release. A red sibling is made from 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache Noir and 20% Carignan that is kept on its fine lees for 8 months before bottling. It, too, is readily approachable with a bouquet of garrigue berries and a smoothly-textured red fruit palate supported by supple tannins. The red 'old vine' villages is made from a field-blend of Grenache Noir and Lladoner Pelut along with 35% Carignan and 15% Syrah. Aged in a combination of cement tanks and used barrels, it's a richly-fruited, hedonistic offering with a wealth of black fruit and wild herb flavours with enough tannic structure to support a decade in the cellar. Restorative slow-cooked daubes and casseroles would make admirable food accompaniments.