Saturday, April 13, 2013

Full Last Day of Tasting Roussillon

Eric Aracil, Export Manager, Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Roussillon, was there to greet me first thing in the morning at Hotel Metropole in Perpignan. It was my last day in this wine region and we had lots of wine to taste.

It was another scenic drive as I once again saw the diversity in the soil of this area between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. We were actually heading closer to the mountains into the driest area in Roussillon.

Our first stop was at Domaine La Casenove in Trouillas, where the Montes family and winemaker Jean-Luc Colombo had managed to make wine from a land filled with clay and pebbles. They had a lot of practice in doing so as this family had been here for more than 400 years.

I liked the selection of wines at Domaine La Casenove, which included dry reds like syrah and the sweeter muscat. The Muscat de Rivesaltes is dessert wine perfected, with notes of honey, apricot and kiwi.

Our ride to Domaine de Nidoleres was as scenic as the previous. I could believe the beauty of the Pyrenees Mountains from every angle.  The soil changed once again. In some areas it looked like there were vines coming straight out of rocks!

I fell for this place immediately, from the warm-hearted winemaker Pierre Escudié and his wife/partner/chef. They have Guest Houses (with hot tubs and a sauna) here as well as a restaurant, where we were to have lunch.  It seemed like the perfect place for a romantic getaway – especially with the winery.Dom

The meal started with a perfect salad made with Small mushroom soufflés served with butternut squash and mashed potatoes was a great option, especially with the 2008 Domaine de Nidoleres Grenache Blanc, filled with lemon and green apple.

I enjoyed the selection of French cheeses at the end of the meal, served with a Domaine de Nidoleres Late Harvest Vinya Blanca. I wish I had more time to stay and chat with the Escudiés, as well as see more of the property, but we had yet another winery to go to, Domaine Montana in Banyuls des Aspres.

The winery was old and beautiful.  From the ancient bricks to the newer stainless tanks and barrel room, they had it all covered.  They also had a museum which explored French wine, especially in this area. It was fun to walk through it and see all the antiques explaining how wine (and winemaking) had changed.

Before we left, Eric and I did some tasting of the Chateau Montana wines.  My favorite was La Rouge Eternal, a mix of syrah, carignan and grenache that produced a wine filled with fresh ripe fruit and a touch of cinnamon.

I had a short time to change for dinner when back at the hotel before Eric Aracil returned to pick me up for a very special final meal.

Le Clos des Lys had the understated elegance that I prefer in fine dining.  We were meeting Georges Puig of Domaine Puig Parahy for dinner. I knew he was bringing wine, but I had no idea just how special this tasting would be.

It seems the wines of Puig Parahy include a rare collection of old wines. With our meal we would be tasting aged muscat wines that were more than 100 years old – and worth thousands of dollars.

Though we started with a light and citrusy 2009 Muscat Sec, we proceeded to the older wines as the meal moved along.

I really didn’t think there would be such a difference in these wines, but each bottle had its own individuality, though they all bore resemblance to that unique taste of chestnut barreling.  

It’s hard to narrow down my favorites, but the 1977 had a fantastic combination of cocoa, fig, walnut and coffee, while the 1962 brought in a bit of sweet baked apple even though the nose was not as strong.  In the 2001, I found a lighter taste, with a mix of raspberry and cinnamon. That wine had another notable component – it was harvested on September 11, 2001.

The wines got older as the evening went on, from a rich 1936 to a spectacular 1910, bringing in notes of nutty caramel and coffee.  We stopped at the 1890 which was tasty and cognac-like.

The food at Le Clos des Les was as memorable as the wine. The plateful of hors d'oeuvres that started dinner was a meal in itself. I was glad the dishes were small since there were so many, such as the pumpkin mousse, served in a shot glass. I also thoroughly enjoyed the pork in cream sauce with artichoke and a hash brown cake.

The final dish was wild boar, served in a filet and cubed in a great sauce. I like the accompaniment of apples served with it for an added sugar and spice.  Chef Jean-Claude Vila had prepared this meal just for us and he had certainly done quite a job.

The chocolate fudge cake was as delectable as it looked and the passion fruit glace was a good accompaniment.

On the way out, I couldn’t help but notice the beautifully decorated cakes and collection of macaroons. As appealing as they looked, I couldn’t possibly eat another bite. It was time for Eric to drop my off at my hotel for my final night’s sleep in Roussillon. I had discovered another wine region I hope to return to someday soon. In the meantime, I was off to Barcelona for a short visit before I head home.


  1. Amazing place. I liked all the pictures that you shared. Also the picture of the chocolate cake makes me hungry. :) It seems that you enjoyed your trip out there.
    Thanks for sharing!