The vineyards for this estate grow along the Agly valley West of Perpignan. In addition to the original 19 hectares of vines planted to six grape varieties – Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Muscat d’Alexandrie, small-berry Muscat and Cinsault – 4 more hectares planted in 2009 are geared to white varieties Grenache, Viognier and Roussanne. The gneiss or granite sand soils promote production of quite refined, elegant wines, enhanced by the switch to organic viticulture, use of organic fertilisers and surface tillage that helps grass break down into green manure in the soil. These techniques also force the vines to put down deeper roots in search of the cooler layers of clay soil beneath the granite.
This family-run estate is managed by Henri and Philippe Modat along with Laurent Abet. Their team is responsible for everything from pruning, debudding and training to harvesting and pumping over. Were it not for human input, vines would probably revert to their original state as wild climbers. The fruit is picked by hand and harvesting lasts for two months. The grapes are picked in 10-kilo crates and sorted in the vineyard. The wines are made in a very functional winery built in 2008 from organic materials such as hemp for insulating the roof. It is also half below ground in order to maximise use of the natural coolness of the sub-soil and has a 100m2 roof overhang clad with photovoltaic panels that produce more electricity than the estate uses.
The wines show distinctive sense of place and remarkable authenticity. Examples of this are the ‘De-ci de-là’, white Côtes du Roussillon (89/100) which is ample, generous and powerful and combines precision and character. The red Caramany ‘Comme Avant’ (89/100) is compelling and spicy, whilst ‘Sans Plus Attendre’ (91/100) is its alter ego in the same appellation and is more complex and lingering with abundant density and minerality. This is Syrah at its finest from Catalan soils.