8 Dec 2017
From £12.50 but apparently also available in the US, Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan
Here we have proof that a woman from Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Middle England can make outstandingly delicious wine in Roussillon, in this case a particularly fresh presentation of ripe fruit, treacle toffee and fashionable stoniness.
Long-standing readers of this website may remember Katie Jones from her travails when her winery was vandalised in 2013.
Things seem to have settled down, to judge from the consistently fine quality, and existence, of her latest offerings. I will be writing about her luscious Muscat Moelleux 2016 (£11.99 for 50cl Naked Wines) next Saturday. I have long been a fan of her firm dry white Grenache Gris 2015 (£14.50 The Wine Society, £90 for six bottles from the Domaine Jones website) – see In praise of Grenache Gris. It was the 2012 vintage of this that was drained away while she was at Prowein in March 2013. And her Fitou 2015 (£14.50 The Wine Society, £96 for six bottles, from the Domaine Jones website) is a fine, concentrated Roussillon red with the potential to age.
But it is Dom Jones, Grenache Noir 2015 IGP Côtes Catalanes (£12.50 The Wine Society, £84 for six bottles) to which I wish to draw your attention today. Like the Fitou, it is 14.5% alcohol, reflecting the strength of the sunshine this far south, and is made from extremely old vines – maybe 90 years old on average. The Grenache sees little oak, and doesn’t need to, so concentrated and characterful is the fruit, as is the case with so many Languedoc and Roussillon reds.
It is grown on the vineyard that first comprised Domaine Jones when she was working at the wine co-operative in the village of Maury in the rugged hinterland of Perpignan. According to Katie, ‘My parents asked me to buy them a small plot of vines so they could say they owned a vineyard in the south of France. I had a particular love of Grenache Noir from Maury so I set out on a mission to find the perfect vineyard.
‘I visited a lot of vineyards but they were all drowned in a sea of vines until I visited this one on the edge of the garrigue. At the time I didn’t know much about vineyards but the vines were old, the schist soils poor and the view over the Château of Queribus [the famous Cathar castle] amazing.’
Initially the fruit was sold to the local co-op to pay for the vineyard work but in 2009 Katie left the co-op and decided to have a go at making wine, a Grenache Noir and a Grenache Gris, herself. Today Domaine Jones controls 20 small parcels of old vines but continues to make about 4,000 bottles of Maury Grenache every year.
In 2015 the Grenache grapes were hand-picked, as shown above, between 23 September an 5 October, into 12-kg crates. They were destalked, put into small stainless-steel vats and given a two-day cold soak before fermentation. The 10-day fermentation reached a maximum temperature of 25 °C (77 ºF). This is fruit, the whole fruit and practically nothing but the lovely old-vine fruit. As those who follow our Friday selections may have noticed, I am a bit of a sucker for Grenache – and Grenache with flavour and ripeness has to be relatively high in alcohol. But you will not be disappointed by the balance and personality of this wine, which is best drunk with fairly substantial food. Without that much tannin, it can be enjoyed already, or any time over the next two or three years. I ended my tasting note (score: 16.5/20) with, ‘The only fault I can find with this is that it’s not built to last 10 years.’
The Grenache Noir is easiest to order either at £84 for six bottles from the Domaine Jones website (where delivery to a UK address costs £10) or at the lower price of £12.50 per bottle from The Wine Society in the UK, but I am assured it is also imported by Europvin of California, Bjorn Steinemann at Invisus Wine in Düsseldorf, E O Taste in Taiwan and Vinarius in Switzerland. It does not (yet?) feature heavily on wine-seacher.com but I hope that will improve.