Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Yet more new wines - Roussillon (Part 2) - benchmark reds from Domaine Sol-Payré

Concluding my write-ups on a large batch of new wines, here are my notes on a quintet of brilliant reds from another grower whose wines I have been importing almost since the beginning in 2004. Domaine Sol-Payré was created by Gustave Payré in 1913 and therefore celebrates its 100th anniversary 2013. The wines are now made by Gustave's grandson, Jean-Claude Sol and his wife Pascale. Previously based in the centre of the old town of Elne, south-east of Perpignan, the family moved a few years ago to a fine new house and purpose-built winery set in the heart of the vineyards, just a couple of kilometres away. Many of the vines here date back to when the domaine was created, and yields range from just 40 hl/ha down to as little as 32 hl/ha. It is worth noting that the first 4 wines are all aged in stainless steel vats, and therefore see no oak-ageing at all. And when the wines are this good, who needs oak? Modernistas and Parker-pleasers, take note - great wine is all about the fruit!

Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. Medium ruby red colour with a light-ish rim. The nose offers enticing aromas of cherries, stewed plums and raspberries. Notes of herby garrigue mingle with leather, toffee apple, forest floor and freshly-baked bread - a proper "winey" nose! The palate is grippy, gently rustic and loaded with fresh, juicy red cherry and raspberry fruit flavours, again with some herby notes and subtle spice. All of that flavour, combined with a healthy dash of lemony, high-toned acidity and just the right level of tannin makes for a wine that is perfectly balanced and deliciously drinkable already. As with previous vintages, this wine shows just how good traditional (and un-oaked) Roussillon reds can be at the "lower" end, with an aromatic and flavour profile not a million miles away from really good Cotes du Rhone - but with extra dimensions of freshness and lift. £9.79

Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. The rich bramble, dark cherry and plum aromas typical of this cuvée are all present and correct, with subtle cedar, leather, tobacco and forest floor notes, along with some enticing violet, redcurrant and savoury elements lurking in the background. An abundance of rich, super-ripe, tangy red and black fruit flavours and all of those savoury and floral elements combine with robust tannins and ample acidity, in a wine of considerable concentration, with a long and spicy finish. Already good to drink now (with the right food) it shows even better on the second day, which marks it out as a wine that will age and improve nicely over the next 5 to 8 years, perhaps more. £13.99

The beautiful view over the vineyards of Domaine Sol-Payré, with the foothills of the Pyrenées in the background
70% Grenache, 30% Syrah. An immensely appealing nose of summer pudding - bready, with oodles of raspberry, red cherry and stewed plums, gently spicy, with subtle herby notes. Despite seeing no oak, there are also some enticing polished mahogany and orange peel notes. It is wonderfully expressive in the mouth, with an abundance of sweet and sour summer fruit flavours, grippy but fine tannins and a delicious backbone of acidity. Whilst really lovely to drink now, I can see this gaining much more complexity over the next few years. Indeed, this is borne out by the fact that it fills out even more over 2 or 3 days, taking on a rich, baked fruit quality, with hints of savoury and warm spices. So enjoy it now, for all of that wonderfully fresh fruit, or let it age and evolve and take on secondary flavours. £13.99

Grenache, Syrah and Carignan. A blend of 3 grape varieties, from 3 different soil types, all at 300-plus metres altitude in the north of the region, around the Aigly Valley and the Fenouillèdes - Grenache on schiste, Syrah on gneiss and Carignan on granite. Another wine with an immediately appealing and expressive nose. Blueberries, plums and black cherries steeped in eau de vie spring to mind, with subtle hints of violets and herbs, polished leather and brioche. Rich, ripe and packed full of juicy red and black fruits, this really is a deliciously fresh, vibrant, chunky, mouth-filling wine. It isn't a glugger, it is a serious wine with genuine structure, but it slips down so readily, even before food is introduced into the equation. The sweet-sour fruit flavours are shot through with all manner of herb and spice nuances, with a rich, bread/pastry quality countered by beautifully ripe tannins and orange-tinged acidity. Even after a couple of days, it continues to change and just get better. Wines from this estate almost invariably have the dual attraction of extreme drinkability in youth and excellent age-worthiness, and this is a classic example. For it has all of the vibrancy you could wish for in a wine so young, yet undoubtedly has the stuffing to age and evolve for a good 5 to 10 years or more. £18.50

25% each of Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvedre, aged for 12 months in oak barrels. Rich bramble and plum aromas, with notes of forest floor/damp earth, cigar box, spices and herbs, with a cloak of roasted, coffee-infused oak. Initially quite showy and rich, but with excellent tannin/acid balance. The oak quickly subsides and integrates on the palate, to reveal a lovely wine, full of southern charm, with rich, concentrated fruit flavours - not overtly sweet, but rich, figgy, chocolatey, yet imbued with a freshness and vitality redolent of red fruits (raspberry, redcurrant, even strawberry). It needs a year or two in bottle to fully integrate, but as the estate's flagship wine, it already shows signs of getting into its stride. Long, warming, fresh, beautifully balanced and considerably complex. £18.95

1 comment:

Dominic S said...

Nice notes Leon. Good to seem some new wines from probably my favourite of your producers.