For many years I've been a fan of wines from Banyuls, the wine growing region at the bottom of France's Roussillion region. The Rousillion is a wine region that produces a lot of wine, especially red, and many of the grapes end up in bulk wine, or blended into other wines that are strictly for the mass market. But like the Languedoc to the north, with which it shares a heritage and an AOC, the area two regions are as diverse as California, Spain or Italy with massive local pride and a rising tide of new, innovative winemakers looking to recreate an experience, using non-indiginous grapes, working completely organically, or older and longer established producers making changes to their fore-fathers traditional approaches to winemaking.
Domaine de La Rectorie,is situated on a quiet street in the lovely seaside town of Banyuls. La Rectorie is one of those in the latter category,whose owners are relatives of the legendary Dr. Parce of Domaine du Mas Blanc,heralded for many years as the best of the bunch when it comes to the sweet Banyuls wines. Having been visiting the winery for almost two decades, the winery, has always provided a wonderful glimpse into the way wines can be from this now-emerging region.
Along with Pierre Parce, the resident photographer whose skillful works adorn the wine labels, I got to taste their current releases including both a short aged and longer aged current release of their Banyuls Rimage.
The 2011 L'Argile (the clay) is a blend of Greanche Gris and Grenache Blanc, and while very lean and angular today, it shows the expressive minerality and finesse that I've come to expect from the wine. Flavors of orange citrus, peach, pear and nectarine are evident even now, and if one gives this wine two or three years one will find the fleshiness of the fruit coming through. The 2011 Collioure Cote Mer Rose is a blend, and fresh press of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. It's dry with layers upon layers of fresh fruit, that is perfect for a summer day. The reds, ranging from the 2010 Oriental, a 100 percent all Grenache wine that is pure silk and ripe strawberry elegance, while the 2010 Montagne, a blend of Grenache, Counoise, Carignan and Mourvedre is an amazing assembly of two of the hardest grapes to work with and the run wild in the vineyard Grenache. Ripe, fruit forward, concetrated and smooth, this is a wine that has the aging potential for 10 years or more, but the drinkability of something you can open right now. Last of the dry reds is the 2010 Cote Mer, a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan is bigger, but by no means any less elegant, offering up more blueberry notes that the strawberry flavored Montagne.
The tasting ended with both 2010 RImage VDN's. The younger more exotic Cuvee Therese Reig and the bigger and brasher Leon Parce, the latter which sees additional time in the barrel. Both are stunning examples of naturally sweet Grenache being made in the Roussllion.