The wines of Roussillon
by Rosemary George MW
Roussillon is always seen as part of the Languedoc region (now itself merged into the new super-region of Occitanie) but for some time the distinctive wines of Roussillon have merited their own treatment. Roussillon did not become part of France until the treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 and it considers itself Catalan, not Occitan. The flavours of Roussillon are quite different from those of the Languedoc. They are rich and warm. The wines of Roussillon have evolved, as they have in the Languedoc, becoming more sophisticated, prompted partly by the increase in the number of independent producers as opposed to the previous extensive domination of the cooperatives. As in the Languedoc, white wine is becoming more important, with white Collioure as well as IGPs from cooler areas in the high hills.
This is the first book-length study of the wines and winemakers of this stunning region. After considering the rich history of the region, particularly the Spanish effect, and explaining the predominance of vin doux naturel, George moves on to the viticulture, winemaking and grape varieties and the extraordinary variety of terroirs and soils of the region. The warm sunshine of Roussillon makes for very ripe grapes and wines with high alcohol. The topography of the vineyards of Roussillon is dominated by three river valleys, the Agly, Têt and Tech, flowing into the Mediterranean near Perpignan. The soil of Roussillon is enormously varied, indeed some of the most varied of all the vineyards of France. The viticulture of Roussillon is founded on Grenache, initially for vin doux naturel, but increasingly for table wines. And there are other grape varieties that are more roussillonais than languedocien, such as Macabeo, with its Spanish origins. The main part of The wines of Roussillon is the series of chapters by appellation, covering the key wine growers, with a balance of well-established estates and newcomers, and also some cooperatives.
Rosemary George’s The wines of Roussillon is the ideal companion for anybody wishing to learn more about this intriguing region and the wines it produces.