The SOMM Journal

August / September 2016

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{ }  83 Roussillon Villages) by Le Clos des Fées that retails for $350 in the United States. Unlike the others, the wine had been decanted and allowed to breathe, as "it is a normal way to present this one," Aracil said. After a dra - matic sniff and taste, he announced—using one of his favorite descriptions—"It is truly gourmandize." Vins Doux Naturels with Dessert . . . Or Not As a chocolate dessert was served, four fortified sweet wines, known as Vins Doux Naturels closed out the lunch. Normally referred to as a VDN, Vins Doux Naturels are naturally sweet wines created by add - ing a neutral and pure alcohol to the wine before the end of the alcoholic fermentation process. This technique is called mutage. Roussillon produces over 80 percent of France's Vins Doux Naturels (or Fortified Sweet Wines), the majority of which can be attributed to the Muscat de Rivesaltes AOP. From Domaine Coume del Mas, a 2014 Galateo (AOP Banyuls Rimage) started the flight. Said Aracil, "It's a pleasant approach on the fleshy fruits, like cherries and blue plums." The next selection, a 2012 Grenat (AOP Maury) produced by Mas de Lavail, was made with the same Black Grenache grape as the first but had grown in a different terroir. Aracil noted the structure of this wine allowed a pairing with foods such as a rabbit with plums or game stew. Next, the Arnaud de Villeneuve Tradition 2014 (AOP Muscat de Rivesaltes) introduced a Muscat to the mix. "The balance is crispy and juicy," Aracil declared. "It'd be wonder - ful to drink as an aperitif." This co-operative adopted the name Arnaud de Villeneuve as homage to the 13 th century physician and inventor of the process of mutage. Saved for last was the oldest wine of the day: a 1985 Collection (AOP Rivesaltes Ambré) from Arnaud de Villeneuve. "The quality of this wine is coming from the grape varieties but especially from the age - ing" Aracil said. Lalit praised the final wines: "This flight I found the most profound. It offered nearly all textbook examples of the grape varieties, delicately maintaining the balance between power and finesse," he said. After the event, Chang—who had previously offered only a wine from the Languedoc, Mas de Daumas Gassac 2013, at Maple & Ash—planned to add other Roussillon listings. "I was super impressed with the value/quality proposition of the wines overall," she said. "The wines will sat - isfy both classic and modern palates." After the curtains closed on the theatrical lun- cheon, it's likely the audience of sommeliers and wine buyers applauded out of surprise, expecting to see a classic and caught off guard in modern delight. Domaine Fontanel Les Cistes 2014, AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel Black pepper, mulberry and dried meats. Vibrant acidity and texture making it very pleasant on the palate. —Parag Lalit MY FRENCH WINE CLUB Domaine Cabirau Serge & Nicolas 2014, AOP Maury Sec Hints of black pepper and plum. Slightly complex with smooth vanilla and caramel. —Alex Basich HAND PICKED SELECTIONS Domaine Sol Payré Scelerata 2013, AOP Côtes du Roussillon Les Aspres Pine forest aromas. Wood tannins with black fruit and rosemary and black truffle. —Mick Ter Haar SEEKING IMPORTER Arnaud de Villeneuve Collection 1985, AOP Rivesaltes Ambré Pale-ish, blonde color ; fine honeysuckle aroma and flavor. Long, sweet with cut. Light tropical fruits and a refreshing finish. —Barbara Hermann USA WINE IMPORTS, INC Domaine de L'Edre, L'Edre 2013, AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages Dark and opaque. Eruptive nose, mature blended fruit. Balance on entry, great length and long finish. —Charles Lockhart HAND PICKED SELECTIONS Le Clos des Fées La Petite Sibérie 2009, AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages A provoking expression of Grenache. A spectacular wine that stands up to some of the other representations in the world of Grenache, although with its own character and uniqueness. Blackberry, truffle, tobacco, dark bitter chocolate, mole, dried fig and prunes. —Parag Lalit DOMAINE SELECT WINE & SPIRITS Les Vignerons de Tautavel Vingrau Le Cirque 2015 Grenache Gris, IGP Côtes Catalanes Tightly wound, concen - trated minerality and lime zest. Loads of soil character, firm zippy acidity. "So fresh and so clean," just like the Outcast song. Anise finish. —Belinda Chang HAND PICKED SELECTIONS Mas de Lavail 2012, AOP Maury Grenat Musty but in a very good way. Intense on the tip of the tongue. Fruits with a clean finish. Share this with good friends who don't like "sweet" wines. —Mick Ter Haar DOMAINE SELECT WINE & SPIRITS Les Vignerons de Cases-de- Pène 2015 Penya Rouge, IGP Côtes Catalanes Rich and powerful aromatics. The black fruits jump out of the glass and punch you in the nose. Plum and blueberry on the palate with surprising finesse. —Kevin Bratt HAND PICKED SELECTIONS Domaine de Rombeau Cuvée Elise 2013, AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages A big wine with tannic structure. Very ripe nose—the flamboyance reminds me of a California Rhône Ranger. The cooperage enhances the creaminess and length. I'd really like to see how this develops in year. —Barbara Hermann SEEKING IMPORTER

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