Taste & Other Notes
Port-like richness, sweet black berry fruits with lovely savoury spice elements. Fine tannins with some alcohol heat, a lovely wine.
Here is what Raymond Chan had to say about this region and the wines after a recent tasting:
Ravishing Rivesaltes – The Wines Of Domaine Cazes
By Raymond Chan
The Roussillon region near the border of Spain has seen a modernisation in production of table wine, very much as is seen throughout most of France. Yet the Roussillon maintains its very distinctive and traditional styles that are well-suited to the warm Mediterranean climate. Among these are the Vins Doux Naturels of Rivesaltes, Muscat de Rivesaltes and Banyuls. The Rivesaltes appellation accounts for around half of France’s production of these gently fortified sweet wines, and the diversity is quite astonishing. The wines can be red or white, amber or tawny, vintaged or not, aged in cask and various containers for varying times, and the styles range from fresh clean whites to mature, rancio-driven and porty style reds. No wonder, when the permitted varieties include Muscats, both Petits Grains and Alexandria, Macabeo, and Grenache Blanc, Gris and Noir, among others.
Domaine Cazes is one of the leading producers of Rivesaltes, with a production of over 65,000 cases of wines annually from 160 ha of grapes, farmed biodynamically. It was a fascinating tasting of the range of Domaine Cazes wines, that are imported by the affable Jean-Christophe Poizat of Maison Vauron. Here are my notes on the wines tasted:
Flight One: Table Wines – VDP d’Oc
Modern wines showing freshness of fruit, simplicity and immediate drinkability. Good fruity aromas a sign of the controlled fermentations.
Dom. Cazes ‘Canon Marechel’ Muscat/Viognier 2004
Straw yellow with a pale edge. Very fresh and clean, aromatic bouquet of orange blossom and grapes. Quite a full, and solid nose. Dry on palate, more Muscat in fruit expression, with musky, grapey flavours, plenty of weight, the alcohol coming through a little. A firm white with some length. 16.0/20
Dom. Cazes ‘Canon Marechel’ Merlot/Syrah 2003
65% Merlot, 35% Syrah. Deep ruby red with a touch of lighter orange on edge. Bright, lifted berry fruit and plum aromas, upfront and obvious with its freshness. Dry, fullish bodied red with ripe berry fruit flavours. There is a gentle warmth and soft tannins giving some grip. Good modern, simpler red that is accessible and enjoyable now. 16.5/20
Flight Two: Muscat de Rivesaltes
Made from Muscat a Petits Grains and Muscat Alexandria, the fortification by addition of spirit on marc, with aging in oak for 8-12 months. Minimum alcohol content of 15.0%. The wines surprised both with their balance and non-intrusive alcohol, as well as their ability to age with grace and interest.
Dom. Cazes Muscat de Rivesaltes 2002
Light golden yellow colour with some good depth. Fresh, steely grapey nose, moderate depth, very clean and primary. Sweet wine, lovely ripe Muscat grapey/raisiny fruit flavours with a gentle warmth. Very good acidity providing freshness and balance. 17.5/20
Dom. Cazes Muscat de Rivesaltes 1995
Deeper golden yellow colour. Slightly oxidized and madierised with a harsh herby note. Sweet, more gentle palate than suggested by the nose. Not a big wine in mouthfeel and size, but with depth and presence of flavour. There is freshness from acidity and alcohol, but a softness and harmony is the predominant character. The oxidative notes integrate with the wine in glass. 17.0-/20
Dom. Cazes Muscat de Rivesaltes 1992
Deep golden yellow colour. Quite a refined nose with good Muscat, grapey lift and a little honey. A subtlety, class even. Sweet initial palate, quite elegant really, with smoothness and fine textures. Ripe, with warm, savoury muscatty aged fruit flavours, a little alcohol heat showing. Some nutty rancio on the finish which gives a dryness to the length. 18.0+/20
Dom. Cazes Muscat de Rivesaltes 1988
Deep, orange yellow, much darker than the others. Full, complex bottle age aromas, rich, savoury, nutty. Sweetish, with strong bottle age savouriness, and a hint of earthiness. But plenty of nutty, caramel and barley sugar flavours alongside raisiny notes. Very aged Sauternes like in many ways. A little heat noticeable, but with a balance and depth. 18.5+/20
Flight Three: Rivesaltes
Weird and wonderful, the styles of these transcending the Rhone Valley, Sherry and Port. Quit a challenging flight of wines, almost defying analysis in the usual sense. Wine ‘faults’ and improbable alliances of components all show, but somehow, the wines come through with a purpose and individuality that is more than pleasing; they are certainly full of interest.
Dom. Cazes Rivesaltes ‘Ambre’ 1995
‘Amber’. Grenache Blanc, aged 7 years in foudre. Deep, golden, orange yellow colour. Full solid nose, but with subtle aromatics, rounded and nutty. Sweetish palate, with warm, ripe grapey flavours, quite rich in fruit weight and texture. A gentle pervading nuttiness, a hint of amontillado sherry in character, or aged Rhone white in style. Full, long finish with a little rancio carrying through the finish. 18.0+/20
Dom. Cazes Rivesaltes ‘Tuile’ 1988
‘Tawny’. A blend of Grenache Blanc and Grenache Noir. Aged 10 years in foudre. Bright orange with a little garnet hue to the colour. A little dank and old oaky, with earthiness of bottle age. Complex aromas of savoury, nutty fruits. Sweeter palate, with a lusciousness and juiciness, quite bright in fruit with subtle berry fruits, reflecting the red wine component. Some tannins too. Dry, nutty finish. 17.5/20
Dom. Cazes Rivesaltes ‘Grenat’ 1998
Grenache Noir, one year in stainless steel, no oak. Dark, deep, ruby red colour. Bright, deep, sweet black fruits and plums on nose, very young vintage port-like, with ripeness and fruitiness. Sweetish palate, black fruits and berried flavours along with a pepperiness and spiciness. There is a fine tannin grip through the palate which provides a backbone and supports the richness of fruit. Subtle power really. Good long finish. Should match chocolate! 18.5/20
Dom. Cazes Rivesaltes ‘Aime Cazes’ 1976
Grenache Blanc, aged for 22 years in foudre. Deep, golden orange colour. Gentle, but full nose with warmth, nuts, honey and a little raisin, quite refined, but with real presence. Sweetish, with sherry nuttiness and subtle rancio flavours. Amazingly concentrated, but with a restrained richness on the palate which unfolds. Multi-layered with subtle nutty nuances. Finishes very long and quite dry. Sheer refinement and concentration. 19.0/20