__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 54

ROUSSILLON WINE

The Roussillon is a region that sometimes struggles to assert its identity. In his new book, Richard Mark James shows that it’s a place where Grenache, in all its forms, really excels

W

hile avoiding rehashing all

those been-said-a-hundredtimes-before clichés about

how vast the south of France’s wine regions were/are, the book focuses

exclusively on a small and unique part of it

usually still gets stuck in with the whole of

Noir, blanc or gris: G is at home in the wi

accounts for just 7.5% of that overall

family of grape varieties in three different

heritage could be lost for ever at the

(about 20,000 hectares in 2019) and below

port-style vins doux naturels (VDN), but it

cousins Grenache Blanc and Grenache

called the Roussillon.

All of that “biggest vineyard in France

and the world” hyperbole is simply not accurate in this case but the Roussillon

the Languedoc and greater region beyond, whether it liked it or not. The Roussillon

“region”, as the French understand it (now called Occitanie), in terms of vineyards

2% of total French wine production. This is one of many good reasons why it should be treated as a distinct entity in its own right, even if historically and stylistically it does form part of the French Mediterranean South.

There seems to be a minor buzz about

the Grenache variety whether from the south of France, the better-established

southern Rhône valley regions, north east Spain or South Australia.

Best known as a red or “black” variety,

Grenache Noir in French, in fact it’s a

shades. There’s a strong heritage of old-

vine Grenache in the Roussillon for making has become the region’s defining grape for red (and rosé) wines, giving them power (sometimes an unfashionably elevated

alcohol level) and lush spicy fruit, although not necessarily such a deep colour or firm tannins.

T

here were 6,000 hectares of

Grenache in 2016, falling from over 7,000 hectares 10 years

earlier; if it continued to diminish while not being replaced sufficiently, that

THE WINE MERCHANT february 2021 54

expense of newer arrivals such as Syrah.

The same can be said for its white variety

Gris that have also experienced more

removal than planting. There were 1,300 and 1,000 hectares of each respectively

(2016) representing a drop of 30% since 2005, although this decrease would

correspond to reduced demand for certain

VDN wines which these two varieties were traditionally complementary to (with Macabeu).

However, with more

interest in dry white wines in the Roussillon in recent years and a dwindling

Profile for The Wine Merchant magazine

The Wine Merchant issue 99  

February 2021 edition of The Wine Merchant magazine, a trade publication for specialist independent wine merchants in the UK

The Wine Merchant issue 99  

February 2021 edition of The Wine Merchant magazine, a trade publication for specialist independent wine merchants in the UK

Advertisement