Domaine Cabirau Cotes du Roussillon Malgre les Fonctionnaires 2010
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 hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.