Les Orris is deepest pitched of all the cuvees, with olive and savoury garrigue notes finding a place alongside some very svelte dark fruit. This is the only wine that has Mouvedre in, 35% in fact, and it shows with the darker pitched fruit, but also a lifted, almost floral quality. The rest of the blend is Syrah (50%) and Grenache (15%). The tension here is wonderful, polished, taut flavours surrounding a sleek mineral core, and the finish persistent yet fresh. Nothing about this is heavy. A very fine Roussillon indeed and one that will cellar happily for a decade or more.
Jean Boucabeille’s estate is perched on the schist slopes of the Forca Real hill, approximately 20 kms west of Perpignan. The self-contained vineyard amounts to eleven hectares laid out in hundred metre terraces. Orientation is south easterly, giving the vines protection from the fierce evening sun and allowing direct access to the cool breezes coming off the Mediterranean. Holdings comprise Syrah, Grenache and Mouvedre, alongside Grenache Blanc, Rousanne and Macabeo. Everything is grown organically, and certified so, with a huge emphasis on the healthy state of the vineyard and surrounding countryside (there are over 100 beehives on the estate). The entire crop is worked and harvested by hand, and fermentations are allowed to happen naturally, and without recourse to cultured yeasts.
The estate has historical importance, however it’s current guise, in Jean’s own words, was borne out of a “hair brained gamble: to replant vines on the very hillside where for centuries the best wines in the region originated” Representing too much work for too little pay off, the steep schist soils of the Forca Real had been abandoned during the early 20th Century. Replanting eventually took place in 1970, the vines today having reached excellent maturity at 30+ years old. Winemaking involves concrete vats for the entry level wines, and judicious use of oak for the more serious cuvees. Extraction is kept to a wonderfully gentle level.
Up and down the range, the wines speak clearly of Roussillon, with generous, schist and garrigue infused dark fruit characters and exceedingly suave tannic structures. Alcohol levels are modest for the region and almost inconspicuous in the finished wines – and the general sense of freshness that pervades the range means that you find yourself returning to these most characterful wines over and over again. For a weeknight glass of something extremely satisfying, the Regis punches way above its weight, whilst the Monte Nero offers silk textured dark fruits on very fine slate minerality. Jean’s top wine, in both white and red, is Les Orris, a wine which deserves cellaring, but which could be approached today if a decanter was employed. There is grace and poise in these wines, some of Roussillon’s finest and we are delighted to have them on board.
An appellation within Roussillon in which at least three varietals must be included in any bottle, and of which at least 20% must be either Syrah and/or Mourvedre.