Friday, 23 April 2010

Languedoc Roussillon – Banyuls

The vins doux naturels from Banyuls are made from vineyards on the steep Vermilion Coast on the rugged terrain of the terraces. It is the most southerly appellation in France, and its borders lie between the Catalan Pyrenees in Roussillon and the Empordà wine region in Catalonia in Spain. The climate here is hot and windy and the grapes become very ripe, frequently shrivelling like raisins while still on the vine.

These sweet wines are famous and there are a couple of high-flying domaines in the region - even the Rhone négociant Chapoutier has a presence here. White, rosé and red versions are available. They are all made with a minimum of 50% of either Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Maccabau, Tourbat, Muscat Blanc and Muscat d´Alexandrie, and are blended with a maximum of 10% of Carignan, Cinsaut and Syrah.

The AC Banyuls Rancio applies to wines that have been matured for a minimum of two years in oak barrels that are exposed to sunshine. These often develop an amber colour, and have the typical rancio maturation note. The AC Banyuls Grand Cru applies to wines that are made from a minimum of 75% Grenache Noir, are made from de stemmed grapes, and were matured for a minimum of 30 months in oak barrels. In addition there is an AC Banyuls Grand Cru Rancio. When appropriately made, Banyuls is extremely long-lived, and resembles port wine. It has an intense nose and flavour of coffee, honey, vanilla and dried fruit.


lostpastremembered said...

I was taken to the Crillion Hotel to get engaged many years ago. The sommelier was delightful and from this region. When I told him of my love of port he gave us 2 banyuls to try.. saying they certainly rivaled any port. I am not sure I quite agree since these were younger wines than the ports I like to drink but they were delicious and I remember them fondly. Thanks for the memory.
I always want to know which bottles you recommend since you are so knowledgeable of all matters vinous! What are your favorite banyuls???

Sue said...

I find port a little heavy (though white port is lovely!!!) One of the better Banyuls is Terra Vina by M Chapoutier - it's expensive though!

Domaines Terroirs du Sud also does a good one

Cellier des Templiers, Château de Jau, Clos des Paulille, the CV l´Étoile co-operative, Domaine de la Casa Blanca, Domaine de la Rectorie, Domaine de la Tour Vieille, Domaine du Mas Blanc are other well known producers