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 44 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 white 'Empreinte du Temps' Côtes Catalanes emanates from a parcel of 90+ year-old Grenache Blanc vines and is deliberately produced in a traditional, oxidative style. The finished wine has a golden straw robe, evocative Manzanilla and smoked salt aromas and a complex palate of grilled nuts and minerals underscored by a long, elegant finish. A sibling red is made from pure Carignan hailing from 140+ year-old pre-phylloxera rootstock and is equally idiosyncratic. Deep purple in colour with garrigue berry and spice scents and a sun-kissed black fruit palate with peppery undertones, it is enjoyable from release and will age well for 3-5+ years.
Not to be overlooked are Hervé Bizeul's 'Vieilles Vignes' bottlings made from ancient, low-yielding rootstock grown on elevated limestone slopes. The white is made from 90% Grenache Blanc and 10% Grenache Gris that are vinified in vat and matured in oak barrels. It has subtle honeysuckle and lemon aromas and a smoothly-textured stone fruit palate offset my racy mineral notes.