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Crazy About Collioure & Banyuls

Collioure Vineyards

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The villages of Collioure and Banyuls Sur Mer are two picturesque villages on the coast of southern France. They sit on the border with Spain. Both villages sit in natural coves and are backed by steep, terraced vineyards.

 

Banyuls Sur Mer

 

The vineyards here are reputable some of the lowest yielding in Europe. Yields in Collioure during the 2016 harvest were 29.5 hectoliters/hectare (according to Roussillon CIVR). Vines on these terraces are bush trained, meaning that all vineyard work in manual. I can’t imagine pruning and harvesting these vines in the hot Mediterranean sun, just look at how extreme these vineyards are below.

 

 

These hills give birth to grapes that can be made into Collioure (Blanc, Rosé, Rouge) or Banyuls Vin doux naturel (fortified sweet wine). The AOC laws state that these wines must be blends (often at dizzying proportions). Here are the grapes that are permitted.

  • Collioure Blanc can contain the grapes Grenache Blanc & Gris, Macabeu, Tourbatou Malvoisie, Roussanne, Marsanne, (Rolle) Vermentino, Carignan Blanc, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, and Muscat of Alexandria.
  • Collioure Rouge & Rosé can contain Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris (Rosé only), Carignan, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault, Counoise. 
  • Banyuls Vin doux Naturel can contain Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Carignan, Muscat à Petits Grains, Muscat of Alexandria, Macabeu, Tourbat, and Malvoisie du Roussillon

The vintage makes a difference on what the winemakers will make. The winemaker from Domaine Madeloc told me that during the hot vintage of 2015, “a few of us got together and decided that we needed to make more Banyuls instead of dry wines because of the grape quality.”

 


During the visit to the region, I became enamored with the Collioure Blanc and Banyuls VDN wines. The whites show shiny slate and mineral flavors combined with ripe stone fruit, lime, and green guava notes. The wines dominated by Grenache Blanc were tannic and getting dry gums is quite a unique experience when drinking crisp white wines.

Banyuls VDN wines are naturally sweet, fortified wines that opened my eyes. I am now a huge fan of these wines (this coming from the only wine geek who doesn’t fancy Port). These wines are complex and fascinating with well-integrated alcohol (which is what bothers me about Port). They are rich and pair beautifully with chocolate.

There are a number of grapes allowed in the blend but most producers use Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc, and Grenache Gris. Strong brandy is added when the wines reach around 6% ABV, stopping the fermentation process and leaving the residual sugar behind. These wines can be red or white and made as a vintage wine, a non-vintage (Hors d’Age), and oxidative in style (Rancio).

During my visit to the region, these wines stood out the most.

Exotic Wine Travel’s Picks

(You can find out more about our scoring system on the WINE RATING page.)

Collioure Blanc

  • Domaine Madeloc (Pierre Gaillard), Cuvée Tremadoc Collioure Blanc 2016

Find or buy on Wine-Searcher.

The Domaine Madeloc (Pierre Gaillard), Cuvée Tremadoc Collioure Blanc 2016 is a fun blend of Grenache Gris, Rolle (Vermentino), and Roussanne. It’s a barrel fermented wine with stellar wood integration. Tangy, mineral, and shiny with white stone fruit flavors and a touch of guava are followed by a long finish.   4.3/5

Domaine Madeloc Collioure Blanc

 

  • Domaine Augustin, Adéodat Collioure Blanc 2016

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The Domaine Augustin Adéodat Collioure Blanc is made with Grenache Gris aged for a short time in barriques. Full of lime and green apple flavors with a touch of yogurt. It has bite in the mid palate and a long finish.   4.2/5

  • M. Chapoutier, Domaine del Bila Haut Chrysopée Collioure Blanc 2016

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The Chapoutier, Domaine del Bila Haut Chrysopée is a cuvée of Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc aged on the lees in large oak casks. The flavors from the lees dominate this big-bodied wine. Other flavors include lime, green mango, and yogurt. It has palate presence, being huge in the mouth with a medium finish.   4.1/5

M Chapoutier Chyrsopee

 

  • Cave De L’Abbérous, Cornet & Cie Collioure Blanc 2016

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This wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Vermentino, Roussanne, and Marsanne left on the lees. The Cave De L’Abbérous, Cornet & Cie is ripe and highly phenolic on the palate. It has lime, green apple, yogurt, and tangy flavors. It’s also tannic for a white that has saw no barrel aging.   4.1/5

  • Mas Siempre, Pujol Collioure Blanc 2016

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This is a crazy white wine made with Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris. The Mas Siempre Pujol smells like it is tired and oxidized, yet it is bright and vibrant on the palate. The flavors include bright green apple, guava, stone fruit, and mineral flavors. 4.0/5

Mas Siempre Pujol

 

  • Clos Saint Sébastien, Inspiration Minérale Collioure Blanc 2016

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While nearly every offering I tasted from Clos Saint Sébastien was impressive, this stood out the most. The Inspiration Minérale is aged one year in large oak casks. It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris. The wine is oaky but well integrated. Full of ripe white peach, citrus, green apple, and mineral flavors with a complex and long finish.   4.3/5

 

Banyuls

Cave L’Étoile, Banyuls Grand Cru Cuvée Réservée 1995

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What a wine! The Cave L’Étoile, Banyuls Grand Cru Cuvée Réservée 1995 was aged for ten years in oak. It’s full of raspberry, coffee, toffee, pepper, and leather flavors. It has a savory mouthfeel, almost like a great, mature dry red wine. Long finish and beautiful integration of alcohol. It’s a blend of Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris, and Carignan.   4.7/5

LEtoile Banyuls Grand Cru

 

Domaine Madeloc (Pierre Gaillard), Banyuls Solera NV

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The Domaine Madeloc Banyuls Solera was made using the Solera methode (think Sherry). The oldest wine in this blend is from 1921! It’s a blend of Grenache Noir and Grenache Blanc. Full of chocolate, caramel, lemon, and fig flavors. Great acidity cleans off the palate, never making the wine feel too sappy. Comes in at 18.5% ABV but the alcohol integration is fantastic.   4.4/5

Domaine Madeloc Banyuls Solera

 

Domaine Pietri Geraud, Banyuls Blanc 2015

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This is made from 100% Grenache Blanc. The Domaine Pietri Geraud Banyuls Blanc is such a fun sweet wine. It smells like a dry wine but the palate and finish take you off guard. Aged one year in barriques. Flavors of flint, lime, mango, white peach, and pineapple dominate. It’s a medium bodied wine with a fiery acidity that wipes the palate clean.   4.3/5

Domaine Pietri Geraud Banyuls Blanc

 

Domaine Tambour, Banyuls Hors d’ Age

This is a non-vintage wine made from 100% Grenache Noir. The Domaine Tambour Banyuls Hors d’ Age was aged for 40 months in oak before release. Don’t let the label fool you, this is serious juice. Full of red fruit, coffee, caramel, and toffee flavors. There is a tart berry pie-like acidity on the finish.   4.1/5

Cave Tambour Banyuls

 

Domaine Vial-Magneres, ‘Al Trago’ Banyuls Rancio 1990

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Made from 100% Grenache Noir, the Domaine Vial-Magneres Banyuls Rancio 1990 was aged for over 20 years before being bottled. The wine was constantly in contact with air during this time, hence the Rancio designation. It’s got a lot of sherry-like notes including almond, chocolate, baked prune, fig, and lime notes. The age has added layers of complexity like leather and mushroom. Rich and chewy, it begs for dark chocolate.   4.2/5


The opinions expressed in this article are unsolicited and have not been paid for in any way by governmental bodies, enterprises, or individuals. We do not sell editorial content as that would destroy the legitimacy of our reviews and the trust between Exotic Wine Travel and its readers

DR MATTHEW HORKEY
DR MATTHEW HORKEY
Author | Speaker | Wine Enthusiast
https://exoticwinetravel.com

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