Monday, May 22, 2006

Get a bottle of... Clos des Fees Les Sorcieres

I was actually searching for a Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc when I came across this wine. I’d read about Clos des Fees in a number of wine publications, so it rang a bell in my head when I saw the bottle. The background is interesting: after many years of handling great bottles of wine as a respected Parisian restauranteur, sommelier and wine journalist, Herve Bizeul took the hands-on approach and bought some old Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan vineyards in the Roussillon. How old? As he puts it, “The village elders remember playing among the old vines when they were young.” 1998 was his first vintage, made with less than 7 hectares of vines – and of course much advice from friends and local villagers, plenty of hard work and a bit of luck.

Today the estate is almost three times the size, releases four wines annually and now includes plantings of Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Les Sorcieres 2004 made from 35% Carignan, 35% Grenache and 30% Syrah, was fermented and matured on the lees using cement vats at a restored winery building in the nearby village of Vingrau. No oak contact whatsoever. Deep and purple in color, the wine offers dense, dark-but-ripe blackcurrant and cassis flavors and has an exceptionally soft palate with very fine tannins. I drank a glass, and then double-decanted the bottle. The second glass showed a rich aroma of ripe fruits, and the finish even silkier than the first.

There are a number of small wineries in the Southwest of France that are worth seeking out. You probably won’t see them too often, but they’re around if you look hard. Ask your local store. Make few calls. The rewards are well worth the effort.

Clos des Fees Les Sorcieres Cotes du Roussillon Rouge2004

Domaine Gauby Cotes de Catalanes Les Calcinaires Blanc 2004

Domaine Leon Barral Faugeres Rouge 2002

Domaine Matassa Vin de Pays Blanc 2004

Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc 2004


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