Fresh Fruit and Elegance…and it is Spanish?

We had just finished our sixth glass of a dark spicy, cherry sweet wine at our Winetasting club (all women working in the wine trade living in Bordeaux – Irish, English, French, Dutch representatives). The theme was ‘Grenache/Syrah’ and we were pretty much ‘shirazed’ out. Each of us girls brings a bottle and serves it blind to our fellow tasters. We comment on it, the ‘owner’ then reveals what it is and tells us a little about it. It turned out that most of the wines happened to be from the Cotes de Roussillion, the French wine region around Perpignan on the Eastern Mediterranean coast. The star of these wines was undoubtedly 2000 Domaine Sarda-Mallet ‘Terroir Maroilles’ made by talented winemaker Jerome Malet. Yields are kept very low for this rich spicy enticing wine of Syrah and Mouvedre. Smooth and sweet and complex. (It turns out that one of the girl’s husband’s, Frederic Engerer, has bought a property in the Rhone near the renowned Domaine Gramenon with this winemaker – keep your eye out for Fort Bonneau from 2009).

It was my turn and I served my offering decanted and slightly chilled (half an hour in the fridge). It was different. It did not have the boiled cherry sweet nose or the rich sweetness on the palate. It was finer, fresher still wonderful smooth ripe red cherry flavours and redcurrant notes but it had finesse and length. A certain vivacity and delicateness. The wine is called S’Alqueria 2006. It is made by Yves Dominque Pages in the northern part of Catalonia from old vine Carignan (80 years), Grenache, Petit Verdot and Macabeo Blanc (yes a few percent of white grapes are added). The vineyards are near the sea and grown at altitude – both factors helping to cool the hot Spanish temperatures and produce freshness in the wine. The terroir is schist.

It has been a life-long dream of Yve’s to produce a top quality authentic wine from this region where his family has a home. Apparently already the wine is going down a storm with interest in France, England and Spain including ‘El Bulli’, the famous three star Michelin restaurant in Catalonia. We all enjoyed it eventhough it was the final wine and by this time it was getting on for midnight. Sign of a good wine – perhaps. Sign of a group of girls who take their ‘work’ very seriously – definitely.

To read his on-going story see Yve’s blog at

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