(2019) The traditional appelations of the Languedoc-Roussillon region have lived slightly under the shadow of the dynamic 'Vin de Pays d'Oc' (later changed to IGP d'Oc), classification that relaxed the rules about what varieties could be planted and style of wine made, to put a new breed of wines on the map. This comes from the best villages of the Roussillon, a blend of fairly equal parts Syrah, Carignan and Grenache, from low-yielding vineyards. It's a particularly fragrant example, unoaked to allow the lightly ashy lift and bright cherry and blackcurrant fruit shine through. On the palate it is generous and smooth, a creamy and chocolaty texture and depth with loads of sweet black fruit, easy tannins and gentle acidity, giving it balance and charm. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2019) Made from old bush vines of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, plus Syrah and Carignan, this is a substantial and meaty wine, deep in colour and aroma, with plum and tobacco, and yet a glimpse of something floral and violetty too. In the mouth there is terrific black fruit sweetness, an initial surge joined by grippy, firm tannins and tart plum-skin acidity to give this tension. Again that one dimension is soon expanded as a fresher red fruit character joins, though it is structure and a fair heft of alcohol that gives it a powerful finish.
(2019) Made from the classic old bush vines of the Roussillon, this is 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Carignan and 15% Mourvèdre, with around one third of the blend aged in barrel for six months. With a hefty 15% alcohol declared, there is a touch of Porty quality on the nose, all black cherry, plum and a touch of violet, a smidgeon of chocolate and some Sandalwood spice and tobacco filling in. In the mouth it is a big wine with a little bit of alcohol heat on the back palate, but there's no denying the appeal of the copious black fruit, fudge-like smooth tannins and peppy cherry acidity to balance as the spice fills in the finish once more. A chunk of steak with this is the way to go.
(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.
(2018) Pouring much the same colour as the 2008, and with the same touch of age showing aromatically, this is a blend of 59% old-vine Macabeu and 18% Sauvignon Blanc, along with Grenache blanc, Chardonnay, Malvoisie and a touch of Vermentino. Mostly made in stainless steel, 28% saw time in new and old 500-litre barrels. Rich, golden in colour and aroma, leesy cream and baked apple, but a brightness to the fruit beneath a touch of oxidation, quite ethereal floral nuances flit in and out. Nice palate, again similar to the 2008, medium- to full-bodied, generous, but still with a core of excellent cirtus peel, fatter acidity.
(2018) The blend for this 10-year-old wine 55% Carignan, 35% Syrah and 10% Grenache Noir, with a minuscule yield of 14 hl/ha, two thirds spending 21 months in 500-litre barrels, old and new. Similar colour to the 2010, maybe slightly more dense though with a little more ochre apparent on the rim. Obviously more ripe, more dark berry fruit-driven than the 2010 with a plushness that the 2010 is missing. The palate shows a good tangy orange and cherry acidity, riper and smoother tannins and that density if fruit. It's a really close call, but if pushed I'd marginally prefer the slightly more weighty yeet balanced style of this vintage, though going back to the 2010, the leaner, more mineral style also has great appeal. Again drinking well now and I would not cellar for much longer.
(2018) Substantially more Carignan in this 2010 (71%), again from 65-year-old vines, along with 25% Syrah and 4% Grenache Noir. Yields of 13 hl/la and 71% of the blend spending 20 months in 500-litre barrels, old and new. It's a full percentage point lower in alcohol, and pours a medium plum colour, woth a broad, light rim. Fine graphite and dried blood character to red fruits on the nose, becoming very nicely sweet-fruited on the palate, ripe summer berries and a firm tannic underpinning. There's a dry, liquoricy touch of extract, but then freshness too with elegant acidity. Long and enjoyable now, but I probably would not cellar too much longer. Tanners has the wine as an 'oddment' at time of writing but there are other by the case stockists.
(2018) Syrah, Carignan, and Grenache is the recipe for this wine from Roussillon, the French appellation just across the border from Spain, but this is a selection of the best small plots of vines. Fabulous depth on the nose: a shimmering pool of red and black fruit, slicked with a little smoke and vanilla, but a fascinating touch of meat-stock just in the background. This is clearly serious stuff, layered and complex in the mouth, though it explodes with a ripe blackcurrant bittersweetness. Bold, chewy and quite a mouthful of wine.