Domaine of the Bee, Roussillon

Some people think that wine has a time and a place. That it should be properly presented, poured and reverently appreciated either around a dining table or more appropriately in a solemn proper winetasting. Happily, Justin Howard-Sneyd, MW, doesn’t think that way. Which is why me and Mr DrinknEat (Nathan Nolan)¬† found ourselves at sunset on top of a hill in Roussillon slugging away on not one, but two bottles of wine from Justin’s vineyard, Domaine of the Bee. Nathan and I were there to visit the region and find out a bit more about the wines of Roussillon. I’m sure you’ve all seen or heard of Ch. Monty, that rather interesting show on British TV a few years back that followed an English chap who chucked it all in to follow his dream of owning a vineyard in the south of France. Justin and his wife were a bit more prudent, buying vineyards in the Roussillon while still keeping their day jobs in London. Justin and his partners, wife Amanda and chief financial partner, Phillipe Sacerdot now have 3 vineyards in the Cathar country about a 20 minute drive from Perpignan, near the town and appellation of Maury. Their vineyards are old vines, as most are in the area, although slowly, old vineyards are being grubbed up and new plantings being put down. Justin’s vineyards are between 1 and 1.4 hectares in size, growing grenache noir and carignan primarily. While the grapes used come from vineyards¬† owned by Justin and his partners, the grapes are grown and the wine is made by Richard Case, owner of Domaine de la Pertuisane where he also makes his own wine, as well as being winemaker for Domaine of the Bee. Justin and co. come to the valley a few times a year to check on how things are going as well as to enjoy the fresh country air and beautiful hilly vistas. The region used to be well known for its sweet wines but as demand...

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Domaine Mastrio – Elegant 2007, 100% old vines carignan from a pop-up winery

        Pop up bars. Pop up restaurants. Pop up shops. Ho-hum. How about something a bit more interesting? Like a pop-up winery, perhaps? Michael Paetzold has done just that in the hills of Roussillon.     I found myself slogging up a hill on a rather gray and chilly day in the Roussillon last week to visit Michael’s “hobby” as he calls it in the Cotes du Roussillon. Michael’s day job is in Bordeaux where he is based and has a very successful wine treatment services company. He has literally thousands of wine clients in France who use his company for their “physical treatment of wines”. Translation, they’re experts in oenotechnical processes. Much too complicated for me but something to do with clarifying, stabilizing, nano-oxigenation, winemaking equipment, etc. An enologist by training, Michael is German and has been working in the French wine trade for many years. When he decided to make wine, he was drawn to the dynamism and terroir of the Roussillon. He originally bought 2 hectares 4 years ago but since then he’s acquired more and now has 15 hectares scattered around the region. He has old vines (average age 70 years old) as is quite common for the region, of syrah, carignan and grenache. The old vines produce wine of great complexity and depth and Michael has been very pleased with the results of his wine making efforts.     Since Michael is based in Bordeaux he couldn’t just ruck up and start making wine. He had to have somewhere to make it. He could have bought a winery but there are not many for sale in the area so he did the next best thing and came up with is “pop-up” or mobile winery. And why not? Seems everybody is doing it, all you need is the technology and Michael has plenty of that. All his equipment comes in on flat bed trucks, from the crusher to the sorting table and even the Range Rover he...

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