Wednesday, 8 July 2009

A visit to Domaine Treloar

Last night we visited our friends Jonathan Hesford and Rachel Treloar, who are based in Trouillas, around 20 miles away from our hideaway. Before dinner, Jon treated us to a tasting of various barrel samples from the 2007 and 2008 vintages.

Jon and Rachel, perched on their barrels of La Terre Promise 2008

First was the 2008 La Terre Promise, which is a blend of Macabeo, Grenache Blanc and Carignan Blanc, which I loved. With aromas of gunflint, citrus and mineral, it is perhaps also a little dominated by the oak, at present, but that will integrate once the wine is in bottle - which will be soon, I hope, so I can get my hands on some of it! But this is no oak monster. It is somewhat creamy and quite rich, with those citrus and mineral elements also coming through and, at just 12% abv, it is beautifully balanced and showing a great deal of elegance – dare I say it, almost Burgundian in structure. Delicious wine, and I can’t wait for my customers to taste it.

We then tasted some reds, starting with a Carignan (from a plot of 60 year-old vines that Jon purchased last year) which was rich, fruity, balanced and delicious. Jon says he doesn’t yet know what he will do with it (blend it or bottle it as a single varietal) but it is remarkably good for a first effort at this much maligned (unfairly, in my opinion) grape.

Jon with a barrel sample of Carignan 2008

Then we moved onto Mourvedre 2007 and 2008. The nose of each was heady, with classic black fruit and tobacco and leather aromas. The flavour profiles were also remarkably similar, characterised by rich fruit, ample acidity and velvety tannins, not unlike young Bandol, but less fierce and easier to drink. The only difference between the two vintages is that the 2008 is still dominated by the fruit, whereas the 2007 (with the benfit of that extra year in oak) is definitely more “winey”. But both are beautifully poised, elegant and balanced. Jon says that he struggled with the authorities to obtain AOC status for the 2006 Motus (95% Mourvedre and 5% Syrah) as they think Roussillon Mourvedre should be soupy and alcoholic. But what do they know about great winemaking?! Jon is not interested in alcohol – he picks at optimum ph levels, not on sugar content. And the proof of the wine is in the drinking.

To finish, we tasted ’07 and ’08 Syrah, which again were remarkably similar – and also delicious. Jon is experimenting with some different barrels with 25% being slightly less toasted (and hence more resiny/oaky) than his usual barrels. Personally, I preferred the Syrah from the toastier oak – it is more elegant and less international in style. But Jon is a master at blending and I am sure the finished results will be just as good, if not better than the 2006’s. All-in-all, 2007 and 2008 are shaping-up to be two cracking vintages at Domaine Treloar, and I can’t wait to unleash them onto my customers!

Jon and Diane tasting Syrah

We then repaired to the Hesford/Treloar family living quarters above the winery, where Rachel had prepared a cracking meal, consisting of a mixed dressed salad with lardons and pitta, delicious roast pork loin with Dauphinoise potatoes and lemon-glazed carrots, and a wonderful date sponge with toffee/caramel sauce, finishing off with a selection of cheese. Oh, and we certainly didn’t go short of good wine!

Although I tend to see Jonathan 2 or 3 times a year, it is always nice to visit him and Rachel and the family at the nerve centre of the operation. They are lovely, hard-working people, who deserve all the success that is surely coming their way. And Diane and I are glad to be along for the ride. Jon is a star winemaker of the future – and, as far as I am concerned, the future is now.

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