When I am at the beach, I can smell the sand baking in the sun…….& the wet shrub behind me…..& the seaweed which has washed up on the shore. Interestingly, when I visit vineyards, I can smell the sun baked rocks, the wild shrub & herbs which surround the vineyard. That was the inspiration of this tasting. Here, then, are 4 wines which for me, smell of the countryside which surround the vineyard. It really is more than a romantic notion. Plus, I think each is a VERY unique & interesting wine in its own right. Just another really good opportunity to learn!
Collioure is a seaport village right on the Mediterranean, where the Pyranees Mountains dive into the multi blue hued sea. The finest sites are very steep, in fact too steep to use any type of machinery. The soil is sun baked rocky schist, which one can readily smell in the wine, much more predominantly than the vinous fruit of 35 to 70 year old vine Grenache.
2010 Domaine Vinci “Rafalot”
Vinci is a relatively new wine prodigy from the very remote, isolated, high altitude Agly Valley. They organically farm their 6 hectares & produce some very interesting wine. For me, their crown jewel is Rafalot, which is produced from 1 hectare of 100 year old vine Carignane. This is definitely a wine of the vineyard, as the roots have had time to dig down deep into the limestone base which lies underneath, & as wild as the desolate, remote countryside it calls home. Still, Rafalot has a deliciousness from the Carignane, which in combination with its wild streak makes it quite unforgettable. It took us a while to get this wine to the Islands, but we are thrilled it is finally here.
2009 Leon Barral “Jadis”
I first bought this wine with the 1993 vintage, mainly because I heard that Didier Barral took over at the helm. He had some real radical ideas of how he wanted to grow & craft his wines. The first few vintages were okay, but more importantly, one could see this project as headed in the right direction. There were, after that, a few vintages where the wines were too extreme & too radical. In the early 2000’s, the Jadis bottling was predominately Syrah based. While I am a huge fan of Syrah, in this case, I just wanted more. Well, we got more with the wines like the 2009, where old vine Carignane became the centerpiece for Didier to build from. The 2009 is in fact 50% Carignane & we love the results. Yes, the wine is still wildly rustic & certainly smells of the countryside, but now there is a deliciousness & a soulfulness to complete the picture. Bravo!!!
2013 Maestracci Calvi “E Prove”
We end this tasting with a wild & rustic Vermentino which is VERY much about the coutryside surrounding the vineyard on the Isle of Corsica. The estate vineyards are located on the granite plateau of Reginu in the foothills of Mounte Grossu. This is a pure, masculine styled white, which is much more about granite & countryside character than grape variety. Still, this wine is thankfully NOT overdone & is therefore a fascinating drink.