(2021) A fine follow-up to the 2018 for this blend of very old vine Grenache Blanc and Gris, appearing under the 'Field of the Bee' label as the fruit comes from Jean-Marc Lafage's vineyard, rather than one owned by Domaine of the Bee. The four months a small proportion of the wine spent in barrel is barely discernable aromatically, as the floral, spice and citrus and melon-rind notes dominate, a hint of exotic mango in there too. The oak adds a touch of warming toast in the background of the expansive palate, the rich texture and intense concentration giving definition and weight to a still fresh and vibrant wine, but one with a bit of grippy, spicy structure. £12.80 for Bee Club members.
From a tiny, 80-year-old Carignan vineyard of low yielding bush vines, fermentation took place in both stainless steel tanks and 500-litre barrels , before maturation in barrel, 50% new. Much more depth of colour than the Bee-side, the nose deep and fruity with a nuttiness I often find in Carignan - almost chestnut-like - and he spice and pencil-shaving notes of the barrel. Creamy in texture, there is mouth-filling richness here, effortless concentration of lush, creamy black cherry fruit, a hint of gaminess, but a rasp of tannin and juicy cherry-pit acidity cut through the creamy density of fruit very nicely to balance, finishing on spice. £17.60 to club members.
(2021) Hand-sorted at the winery, the first pick of Carignan is fermented in a stainless steel tank, with the rest of the Carignan and Grenache fermented in large wooden barrels. After pressing, the whole lot spends 18 months in a mix of 500-litre and 225-litre barrels, approximately a quarter of which were new. Dense, deep crimson colour, the nose showing a little violet and Indian ink, vinous density. In the mouth the sweet punch of the fruit is delicious, a combination of red and black fruits, plenty of spices here, clove and black pepper, and the weighty, rounded mouthfeel balanced by creamier tannins than in the Carignan, and very good acidity, giving this both svelteness and freshness into a long, powerful finish. £20 for club members.
(2021) 100% Grenache made in oak vats, around 50% was fermented with 'whole bunches', and the rest destemmed. After pressing the wine was aged 18 months in 500-litre barrels, with a very small proportion of new oak. It has an attractively pale but bright colour, the nose a little earthy and showing the wood component, the fruit a little shy at first but bursts into bloom in the mouth, with juiciness and richness, good concentration, some spicy notes and savoury cherry fruit. A stripe of tannin and acidity gives a mouth-watering tartness in the finish. £14.40 to club members.
(2021) This single-vineyard bottling of Grenache, Carignan with Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc is only produced in the best years, with 967 bottles made in 2018. 15% is made up of white wine grapes, giving both a more delicate colour and perhaps helping with the relatively low 13.5% alcohol (for this region). The vines here are more than 100 years old, fermented with a combination of destemmed and whole bunches in large oak barrels, then into a new Seguin-Moreau 600-litre barrel, with one barrique of Grenache pressings blended in. There is lightness and airiness on the nose here, definitely some floral lift and lighter, more raspberry-like fruit, but underpinning is a graphite mineral sense of concentration. In the mouth it is supple and delicious, salty and ozoney, with raspberry pip tartness and a fine framework of tannin and acid that suggest a bit of longevity. It is, however, delicious now, and both powerfully concentrated and juicy to the end. £32 for club members.
(2021) I came over all Arthurian drinking this, "Made in the Realm of Albion," as it says on the label. Domaine of the Bee teamed up with Ridgeview in Sussex, who made this wine for them, from fruit selected by Justin Howard-Sneyd: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Very fine on the nose, with a suggestion of ripe fruit, but plenty of creamy, bready, autolytic character, Cox's pippin apples and zestiness. In the mouth that nutty, nicely developed apple fruitiness again, a bit of breadth and fruit sweetness to this, before the balanced finish where the acidity runs like rapier cut, but always softened by the fruit and creamy lees ageing into the finish. Club members can buy at £28.00
(2020) From English MW Justin Howard-Sneyd and his family, this blend of Grenache and Syrah is made by Jean-Marc Lafage of Domaine Lafage, with a limited run of individually numbered bottles. It's an unashamed homage to Provence from its pretty, pale salmon pink colour, to its sheer acidity and cool red fruit profile. As in the 2018 there's a whiff of exotic pot-pourri of flowers and spices, dry reducrrant, downy peach and watermelon fruit. That bracing shot of acidity revs up the finish, so whilst delicate and light, it has a bit of tension and grip too. Note that members of Domaine of the Bee's wine club can buy for £12, and bibwine.co.uk will be selling a limited number of 2.25-litre boxes of this wine.
(2019) A blend of Carignan and Grenache, matured in a mix of 500L and 225L barrels, a quarter new, for 14 months. This is a big powerhouse wine with 15% abv and plenty of structure and depth, yet the nose is not without perfume, delicate rose and bergamot, spices and tobacco atop the black fruits. In the mouth a rich and substantial wine, the creamy-smooth tannins just edging the sumptuous, sweetly ripe black fruit. Plum-skins and cherry pits in the dry acidity add to the savoury character in a cracking wine - writ large. £20 for Bee subscribers.
(2019) From a vineyard owned by Jean-Mark Lafage, of very old Grenache Gris and Blanc, this is partially oak-aged, and has a most enticing nose: hints of white flowers against white peach down and zest of lemon. In the mouth it is beautifully judged I must say, with a welter-weight of sweet, ripe, juicy fruit but backed up with crystalline acidity, a hint of spice, plenty of zest and vim, and yet a softer note to the ending that keeps it balanced and easy to drink. At the Bee club members price of £12 it's a steal, but great value anyway for a quality wine.
(2019) English MW Justin Howard-Sneyd and his family have run Domaine of the Bee since 2007, farming a small area of vineyards in the Roussillon, with some top regional winemakers consulting and this terrific pink is one of only 1800 bottles produced from Grenache, Grenache Gris and Syrah. It has a pale and pretty colour, and a nose that combines raspberry pink grapefruit with lifted, rose and (delicate) patchouli nuances. In the mouth it is ripe and really very harmonious, the peachy and soft summer berry flavours melding so effortlessly with the acidity, to give a dry, crisp but invitingly soft style of rosé.