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The 2012 Vintage in the Côtes du Roussillon

Saturday 1st December 2012 - By David Moore

This is the first of a small series of articles over the next couple of months in which we will bring you reactions from winegrowers and producers to the 2012 harvest in southern France and across Spain. My thanks to Jonathan Hesford and Rachel Treloar, proprietors of Domaine Treloar, for their observations about the year in the Côtes du Roussillon, which is south of Côtes du Roussillon-Villages and Rivesaltes but nevertheless a source of some excellent wines.

These are Jonathan Hesfords observations which make for some interesting reading:

“We had cool, wet weather over flowering, which led to poor fruit-set and therefore low yields in the Grenache and Carignan varieties but others were OK, around normal yields for me of 26hl/ha.
The August heat-wave made up for a cooler June and the grapes ripened nicely into September which had great weather, making it easy to choose the right picking day. The state of health of the grapes was probably the best I’ve ever had. This year I made a conscious decision to reduce the amount of time pumping over to lower the tannin extraction on the reds. I’ve also given up using enzymes completely and done more wild ferments.
The wines have all turned out really well. I would say the stars at the moment are the One Block Muscat, the Syrah and the old-vine Syrah/Carignan whole bunch co-ferment on stems, of which there will be around 1200 bottles. I chose to switch to larger format barrels for these two reds, using 450lt French oak barrels from Rousseau, which has been by favourite tonnellerie for several years.
I had assumed that this fine harvest applied to the whole of the Languedoc-Roussillon. My neighbours in the Aspres all agreed on low yields and great quality. However, I met a producer in Maury yesterday who tends to harvest late and he said it was his worst vintage. They had hail at flowering, resulting in vines with no grapes at all and then the late season rains damaged and diluted the crop that was available. Which only goes to show how diverse the Roussillon is. The problem is that wine journalists focus on Maury and the Agly valley and use that as the yardstick to measure the whole Roussillon.”

Domaine -  is a small 10 ha domaine in the southern Roussillon a short distance north of the Spanish border. Jonathan Hesfords training and background in New Zealand has helped he and his wife Rachel in making a small range of classy, polished reds, whites and a rosé. The rich and concentrated flagship Tahi is a selection of their best parcels and barrels of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Motus is mainly Mourvèdre while Le Secret is a stylish, black pepper scented blend dominated by Syrah. More immediately approachable are Three Peaks (Grenache, Syrah and Mouvèdre), the One Block Grenache and the unoaked Le Ciel Vide. As well as a dry, aromatic Muscat, One Block, a Muscat de Rivesaltes is also made as well as a richly textured, mineral scented second dry white La Terre Promise blended from Macabeu, Grenache Gris and the rare Carignan Blanc. A full profile of the domaine will be included in early 2013 in Le Midi Vin.    

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