Agly Brothers Cotes du Roussillon 2003
"Rich and intense, with a meaty aroma and layers of red plum, raspberry, dark cherry and dark chocolate flavors. There's also a pure, minerally spiciness, with an enveloping finish of clove, kirsch and mocha. Carignane, Syrah and Grenache. Drink now through 2015. 400 cases made."
The vineyards are located on the slopes in the upper reaches of the Agly valley. The plot planted with Carignan and Shiraz is on gneiss at an altitude of 250 m, and faces north. The plot planted with Grenache is on south-facing slopes on an original soil made up of schists on a layer of limestone. The grapes are picked and selected by hand, 100% destemmed. Aged for 16-20 months before bottling.
Agly Brothers, named as a playful take on Ron and Michel making wine together from vineyards along the River Agly, is nurtured biodynamically and made with simplicity from vines grown near the Southern French town of Latour de France, located in the Côtes du Roussillon. Literally translated as ‘The Tower of France’, this small village borders the ancient kingdoms of Catalonia and France. Mature vineyards lay abandoned in this area of steep, arid slopes due to the high cost of farming, thus it is the quest of the Laughton and Chapoutier families to rediscover and fully express these exceptional, low-yielding sites. This wine is the beginning of that quest.
This dynamic partnership also yielded a Shiraz vineyard in Central Victoria’s Heathcote region, the home of Jasper Hill. Planted in the spring of 1998, this tiny vineyard was established on virgin red Cambrian soils and planted with both Australian Shiraz clones, selected by Ron, and French Syrah clones, imported by Michel from cuttings off his famous Hermitage vineyard. The label depicts ‘La Pleiade’ (The Pleiades, Seven Sisters), a small, wispy star cluster in the constellation of Taurus that can be viewed by the naked eye from both partners’ home vineyards in Tain l’Hermitage and Heathcote. Revered in legends by ancient cultures of most civilisations, including the Gauls and Aboriginal Australians, the Greek mythology of the Pleiades is linked to the seven beautiful daughters of Atlas and Pleione and their pursuit by Orion.
Although it is a region predominantly recognized for fortified, vins doux naturels (a type of sweet wine), Roussillon is also ideal for the production of dry red, white and rose wines. To encompass all the dry wines from the surrounding region that are not the vins doux naturels of Banyuls, Maury and Rivesaltes, the appellation of Côtes du Roussillon was created in 1977. It covers the eastern half of the Pyrénées-Orientales (the eastern side of the Pyrenees Mountains) and lower lands of Roussillon. Côtes du Roussillon includes complex soils of schist, limestone, gneiss and granite and climatic conditions that support many grape varieties.
Côtes du Roussillon red wines are blends made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and smaller amounts of Carignan, Cinsault and the lesser known, Lledoner Pelut. Rosé wines come from the same varieties, as well as may include Grenache Gris and Macabeo. White wines from Côtes du Roussillon are Grenache Blanc and Macabeo with small amounts of Marsanne, Roussanne and Rolle (aka Vermentino).
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.