Every wine region of the world gets a push from an outsider or a local within its borders. Italy has Alois Lageder, Spain has Clos Mogador from Rene Barbier. These individuals have the capacity to revitalize a wine region or bring a new fresh perspective.
Take for instance, Coume del Mas. The domain was adquired in 2001 by Philippe and Nathalie Gard. A few years later (2007), Andy Cook arrived from New Zealand to do a winemaking stage and stayed as the winemaker at Coume del Mas.
In my latest press tasting, I was treated by a through tasting of the Coume del Mas domain, its sister domaine Mas Cristine and their negociant business: Tramontane. Andy Cook, lead us trough the tasting
Coume del Mas is located in the steep slopes around Banyuls sur Mer. Their vineyards yield the best of both worlds: richness of mountain fruit with freshness of the sea. They make many different cuvees under the umbrella of different appellation such as Banyuls, Collioure, Cotes du Rousillon and Cotes Catalanes. Coume del Mas yields are very low: under 20hl, per hectare. Here the problem is too much good of a good thing: lots of sun, with grapes getting deliciously overripe and walking the fine line of losing balance.
Just before the tasting started, Andy gave us a tour of the facilities of Mas del Coume. The staff was bottling some of their wines. I can’t remember which ones, but Andy explained that due to lack of space, they were renting a mobile bottling line to do the task. Here is a little video that i took of the process:
In this post, I will discuss my favorite white wine picks. In a future one, the reds of course.
The most captivating wines of the tasting:
Grenache gris 80%, grenache blanc 10% Vermentino 10%
Folio has become a connoisseur wine among Rousillon cognoscenti. Mainly old vines planted from the 1960’s and barrel fermented.
Ripe and generous nose. Pear in confit with exotic tropical fruits and star anise. Rich and very stylish with and long mineral finale.
Tramontane and Mas Cristine
Tramontane is the negociant business of Andy Cook in association with Philippe Gard. Basically, they make wines with their own fruit as well by their friends winegrowers. These are very well made wines with a umbeatable price quality ratio.
The line of wine gets its name from the Tramontane wind in France. It isa strong, dry cold wind from the northern Mediterranean or from the northwest (in lower Languedoc, Roussillon, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands). It is very similar to the mistral but it follows a different corridor; the tramontane gains speed as it passes between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central, while the mistral continue down the Rhone Valley between the Alps and the Massif Central.
The tramontane is created by the difference of pressure between the cold air of a high pressure system over the Atlantic ocean or northwest Europe and a low pressure system over the Gulf of Lion in the Mediterranean. The high-pressure air flows south, gathering speed as moves downhill and is funnelled between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central.
Tramontane Macabeu 2016
Old vine Macabeu from the steep hills ( limestone and clay) of Alberes . Fruity and gormand with nuances of white nectarines and flowers. Quite elegant and digest with nuances of orange blossom water. Harmonious finale.
Tramontane Muscat Sec 2016
Muscat is a highly perfumed variety. It yields perfumed and structured wines. Generally, Muscat wines bring to mind floral, menthol notes with white and yellow fruits. In Rousillon, it is vinified as a dry style or as a fortified wine. On the nose, this muscat displays grapefruit aromas with light smoky hints. On the mouth, ripe orange, quince and peach flavors balance with ra acidity and a vein of lovely mineral flavors. The dry, full finish lingers pleasantly.
Mas Cristine was created in the 19th century. The estate has a magnificent location close to the sea. The soils are a geologist’s dream: quartz, red argile, schists. The estate plants Syrah, Grenache, Rousanne, Marsanne and Muscat. The yields are quite low, never passing 25hl per hectare.
Le Grill du Mas Cristine Blanc 2016
2016 was the second vintage of this new wine of Mas Cristine. An equal blend of Vermentino and Macabeu. This wine evokes the freshness of the Mediterranean sea. Fresh and perfumed with nuances of citrus fruits, key lime pie and white nectarines. On the mouth, a pleasant oily texture with complex mineral flavours. Very long finale.
Mas Cristine Cotes du Rousillon Blanc 2016
This wine basically comes from a schist terroir of a medium altitude ( 250 meters) in the Alberes terroir.
Lovely and very expressive nose. A hint of vanilla bean with racy apricot and peach character. With time in the glass, notes of confit lemon and orange appear and the mind boggling minerality. On the mouth, it has a very grand structure enveloping the mouth and a long refreshing persistance in the finale.
I also was charmed and very impressed by the Consolation line. This is a proyect by Philippe Gard and Andy Cook to reflect the expression of a specific set of grape varieties in the Rousillon terroir.
Rock n’ Rolle 2015
Rolle or Vermentino is grown on Rousillon and is praised for its freshness and power. Grown in a unique pebbly parcel, this Vermentino display lots of tension an has an impressive structure. The yields for this wine are quite low, 25hl per hectare ( 2014 figures). It has a great structure displaying exotic notes of citrus fruits. This wine only sees stainless steel and no oak. It is classified under the IGP Cotes Catalanes.
Filles de Mai 2015
Macabeu is one of the greatest white varieties of Rousillon. When is it vinified correctly, it yields transcendental wines displaying aromas of white fruits and a seducing floral side. This Macabeu comes from a clay, limestone terroir. Like the Rolle, the yiels are pretty low: 27hl per hectare. Fresh, digest, and very harmonious. Enticing aromas that bring to mind Macadimia, Brazil nuts with chamomille and white tea. Classified as IGP Cotes Catalanes as well.
Miranda Marsanne 2014
Being a fan of Northern Rhones whites, I have a soft spot for Marsanne. A tiny production from the parcels situated just below Mas Cristine, overlooking the Mediterranean. A wine not for the faint hearted. Rich and powerful with heady scents of nougat, honey and apricot jam. Texture almost buttery due to the passage of the wine in french oak barrels. and the extremely low yields of the parcel. 22hl per hectare IGP Cotes Catalanes.
Stay tuned for the reds!!
Ciao for now