Our guests were greeted with a chilled glass of Crémant de Limoux NV of Philippe Collin and had the opportunity to mingle with our wine editor Bruce Palling as well as Tom Ashworth of Yapp Brothers wine merchant, and grower Christine Campadieu who had traveled to the UK for the event.
Yapp Brothers are arguably the best UK specialist in regional French wines and Tom gave a little background on the featured region, before Christine took time to explain each wine to the room during the dinner. Bruce reflects on the event…
"Domaine la Tour Vieille is located in Roussillon and, given its proximity to the Spanish border, is also referred to as French Catalonia. Christine Campadieu is the fourth generation of her family to run these rugged vineyards, which are so steep that everything has to be picked by hand.
The first wine served was from Languedoc – the excellent Champagne-style Crémant de Limoux NV of Philippe Collin, who formerly worked in Champagne before heading south. It is made from the classic Champagne grapes - Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and has a fresh style reminiscent of apples and hints of lime and melon. It was a wonderful aperitif and was matched perfectly with the foie gras terrine with smoked eel and pickled cherries. Tom Ashworth of Yapp Brothers explained to guests that this is their best selling sparkling wine because of its unbeatable price to quality ratio.
The next course was a Mediterranean tuna tartare with tahini yoghurt and Roussillon peaches, served with the Domaine La Tour Vieille white – Collioure “Les Canadells” 2016. My favourite wine of the evening, it was intriguingly full-bodied and appeared to be sweet on first taste, but then revealed its mineral core and elegant aftertaste. Christine Campadieu explained that it is picked in mid-August to avoid it becoming overripe and alcoholic. It is a relative newcomer as Christine’s grandparents only produced Banyuls, the famous Port like pudding wine, which is predominantly made from the Grenache grape.
The main course of beef tartare, sesame and Collioure anchovies came with two reds – the first a Duché d’Uzès “Les Pérassières” 2015 from Domaine Camp Galhan in the nearby Languedoc. This is a blend of Grenache and Shiraz, the predominant grape varieties in southern and Northern Rhône. A straightforward red exuding berry and herbal overtones reminiscent of the region.
Also from the excellent 2015 vintage was the Domaine La Tour Vieille Collioure “La Pinède”, a more robust peppery blend of Grenache and Carignan grapes. This can age for a decade or more but is probably best in its youth with its powerful structure, making it ideal for strong flavoured dishes or meats.
Guests were served a cheese board accompanied by a Banyuls Reserva from Domaine La Tour Vieille, their most famous wine. This is France’s finest Vin Doux Naturels, which has been made in the Catalan region for more than 800 years. Slightly fortified by added alcohol, this is an immensely attractive red dessert wine, which can be served slightly chilled.
The final course of the evening was Baba with Roussillon apricots, served with the Domaine’s rarest wine – a Banyuls Vin de Méditation, which is made in tiny quantities via a ‘solera’ system dating back to 1952 and has an intense Port like aftertaste.
The evening was a fascinating display of regional wines that really show their individuality and quality, especially for the price. With the exception of the Banyuls Vin de Méditation, which is not commercially available, all wines tasted during the dinner are available to purchase at a discounted rate.
You can buy each wine as a case of six, or a mixed case - we’ve added a Corbières ‘3iéme Cuvée’ Domaine Py 2016 to create a mixed case. Composed of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino and Roussanne grapes, it has a delightful aroma of wildflowers with the winning addition of a citrus aftertaste. This rare white wine is a perfect aperitif or a partner of seafood and salads."
Wine Editor, The Week Wines