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Rediscovering Roussillon

It’s many years now – well, five or six at least – since I last took a serious look at Roussillon. It’s a region with a very distinctive and fascinating style when it comes to wine; the reds in particular have always seemed strong, the whites too although perhaps not at the same level as the reds, for my palate at least.

One estate to which I have not given much attention in recent years is Le Soula, which was established as a joint project between Gérard Gauby, perhaps one of the best known names of the region, and Richards Walford, a well-known UK-based wine importer which was taken over only last year by the even more well known Berry Bros. & Rudd. The relationship between Gérard Gauby, Roy Richards and Mark Walford dated back to the 1990s, although Le Soula was born only in 2001. A new winemaker, Gérald Standley joined, to work alongside Gérard Gauby, in 2001. It is my understanding that, since the sell-off of Richards Walford, Gérard Gauby, Gérald Standley and Mark Walford and continuing to work together on this project.

Le Soula

I recently tasted two wines from this estate, both from the 2008 vintage.

Le Soula Blanc (VdP des Càtes Catalanes) 2008: A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Macabeu, Vermentino and a selection of other varieties including Marsanne and Roussanne. The colour in the glass is a rich gold, the nose an enticing mix of reductive, matchsticky notes, which tend to dissipate with time, along with richer and more golden tones reminiscent of honey, nuts and ginger in a style very consistent with richly ripe fruit and low yields. The palate has a broad and grippy style, with more matchsticky reduction evident here, and with a very fine sense of grip and acidity. Overall a wine of appealing structure, with plenty of substance, and great grip underpinning it all. 17/20 (February 2013)

Le Soula Rouge (VdP des Càtes Catalanes) 2008: This is 55% Carignan, 35% Syrah and 10% Grenache. Very low yields here, just 14 hl/ha. A confident colour in the glass, deep at its coore, but vibrant and youthful at the rim. It has a lightly toasted nose, with white pepper, dark and concentrated, full of sweet and dense roasted cherry. There is plenty of texture on entry and through the middle, with softly polished tannins, a lovely grip to it all, and correct acidity. Roasted cherry, plump but dark, with a savoury confidence despite the sweetness. A very good balance to it all, and a long, grippy finish. Another impressive wine. 17.20 (February 2013)