Vin de Pays Catalan
Former fruit grower Denis Ferrer and civil servant Bruno Ribière were shrewd to recognise the potential of the vine country between the Mediterranean and Pyrenees in Les Aspres, south-west of Perpignan, when they set up their wine estate back in 1993. Today they are responsible for 29 hectares of organically-certified vines yielding characterful wines with a strong sense of terroir. With parcels of ancient rootstock on soils of quartz, schist, clay and limestone, a long, sunny ripening season and the cooling influence of the Tramontane wind, they have an enviably diverse selection of fruit from which to fashion their wines.
Their bottling of pure Grenache Blanc, called 'Empreinte du Temps' (the footprint of time), is a deliberately oxidative straw-coloured offering with Manzanilla sherry aromas and a palate of nuts, minerals and wild herbs with a long persistent finish. It makes a fine accompaniment to the local cuisine that is rich in peppers, olives and anchovies. A sibling red, hailing from 139 year-old Carignan vines, has a deep purple robe, garrigue berry scents and a briary black fruit palate supported by supple tannins.
Hervé Bizeul at Le Clos des Fées also makes some superb 'old vine' wines from ancient rootstock on steeply elevated limestone slopes. His 'Vieilles Vignes' blanc is made from a blend of 90% Grenache Blanc and 10% Grenache Gris that is vinified in vat and matured in barrel. It has preserved lemon and honeysuckle scents with a rich orchard fruit palate underscored by a savoury saline streak and makes a fine foil for poultry and fish in sauces.