Patrick Comiskey, journalist for Wine and Spirits magazine moderated this panel featuring several producers from Roussanne. Patrick kicked off the panel with his interpretation of Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a Dream” cleverly reworded to match the panel’s theme.
First speaker was Pierre Gaillard and his daughter Elise from Domaine Madeloc in Banyuls sur Mer. The pair showed gorgeous pictures of their winery overlooking the sea. Their white wine, 2009 Collioure Tremadoc Blanc, is fabulous, a golden color and palate of roasted pineapple with fresh acidity. Their 2006 Collioure Magenca Rouge is a blend with grenache, mouvedre, and carignan – all old vines. The wine is very well balanced with solid minerality, aged 14 months in wooden barrels. Schist is extremely important to this domaine. The terraces on the steep hillsides have been there since the 11th century. Everyone laughs when she shows a picture of a horse plowing, with the sea glimmering before it. “The horse is working, enjoying the sea …” Elise says.
Jean-Roger Calvet from Domaine Thunevin-Calvet in Mary, France is next. He is fourth generation from his winery. He grows Carignan, Syrah, Mouvedre and Grenache. Schist is 90% of the soils they owned, so for the purpose of seeking more freshness he bought a small vineyard with granite soil. The 2007 Les Dentelles is a blend of 50% grenache and 50% Carignan Noir (80 years average age). This is Jean-Roger’s first vintage with wine from granite and wine from schist. It is a deep, dark wine with lively acidity and an incredible sense of minerals/earth. Aged in barrels for 18 months. The next wine is the 2007 Hugo … it is very well balanced with med+ acidity and good tannin (80% grenach and 20% syrah from shale soils). The last wine is 2007 Les Trois Maries with 80% grenache, and 20% syrah from granite soil. They choose the best parcels in Maries to make this wine as they wanted a wine with more elegance, It is a very fresh wine with elegance resulting from the granite soil.
The next panelist is Marjorie Gallet from Domaine de Le Roc de Anges Montner. We start with her 2009 Vielles Vignes Blanc. The wine is a scintillating gold. Roussanne is not known for white wines, yet increasingly it is becoming famous for white wines due to the soils and climate. It is a blend of old parcels, including macabeo. Very rich concentrated on the nose with a floral minerality, On the palate, the wine is dry yet has a floral sweetness, medium acidity, and a fresh juicy quality. You can also find a sense of salt, from the minerality.The wine is biodynamic and Marjorie enjoys the link to nature in her work. The soil is schist, which looks like schiest from Cote Rotie and is very friable. The roots can go deep and the vine can find water in the rock. The vines are over 65 years, which give the wines their concentration. Marjorie admits she is obsessed with deep roots. Low pH for sensation of freshness. The 2nd wine is 100% Carignan planted in 1903. Very concentrated and gamey on the nose, Very balanced and elegant wine with structure. Though from a hot region, the wine is not massive, just a sort of faded gaminess. “This wine is like a man who has a great personality, yet not handsome,” says Marjorie. “Yet you can’t stop looking at him!”
The next panelist is Herve Bizeul from Le Clos des Fees, in Vingrau, France which has 400 habitants. Soil is limestone, the oldest in the world. The first wine is 2009 De Battre mon Coeur. Syrah on granite soil – normally a pure syrah is forbidden, yet he was able to get away with it. It is delicious! I respond to the smokiness, curious if it is from the soil or a wood element (yet certain it is an expression of that ancient limestone). Along with the smokiness I get intense concentrated fruit. On the palate, very juicy with fresh acidity and layers of flavor from the textured yet smooth tannins. The finish is long with flavors of black licorice. He says he is a “tactile man” and bought the vineyard because of these grapes. It is stainless steel fermentation and bottled quickly, the following April. The 2006 Vielles Vignes is 60% grenache and 40% carignan. As a former sommelier, he thinks it important to think about the consumers. The wine is fresh and lively. 2006 Clos des Fees is aged in new oak, 15 months, and in this wine he has made it for aging. It is almost black, very opaque, and scintillating. On the nose, a deep rich black cherry, intense minerality and fruit n the palate. It still seems too young … in five years can’t wait to see it. Right now, it has a great balance, intensity of fruit, concentrationand structure. Herve gives a little talk about finding terroir … and finding terroir find you.
The final wines are fortified wines from Banyuls and Maury, owned by Domaine Madeloc and Domaine de Le Roc de Anges Montner There are three appelations: Maury, Banyuls, Rivesalts. Domaine Madeloc 2007 Banyuls Cirera is a dark purple wine from grenache, with a raisinated nose. They keep 90 grams per litre with the total alcohol being 17. They keep it in a big wooden tank for 1.5 years. The name means “cherry” in catalan. The palate has rich sweet luscious fruit, and long finish with refreshing acidity.
Marjorie Gaillard introduces the 2009 Les Terres de Fagayra Op. Nord, matured in tank then bottled early. The wine is from Maury and Marjorie says the marketing department suggests pairing this with chocolate, but she likes to eat baby pigeon, or red meat. I can see pigeon …. she feels that this wine is less heavy than some red wines because of soil. She also suggests cheese and yes, I can see this, depending on the type of fromage.
An absolutely fabulous panel, and excellent enthusiasm from the panelists and moderator.