Sunday, 3 April 2011

Domaine des Trinites

I'd heard good things about Simon and Monica Coulshaw's Faugères based Domaine des Trinites from friends so an opportunity to visit, albeit in a group of over 40 others, was hopefully going to be a vinous pleasure as well as a social one.

Trinites is really two domaines in one. 24 hectares are split between vines on the schist soils of Faugères around Roquessels and less than 5 Kms away around Montesquieu. Here the land is mixed and includes limestone, basalt and other schists with the result that the area has been classified in the relatively distant Pézenas appellation. My overall impression after the tasting was more than just well made wines at a price point (from €4 to €8 and not much more for the last wine). They are uncomplicated but lively, well balanced and let their lights shine. The 2007s are a glorious first effort.

First were two whites. Viognier 2009 and Rousanne 2008 were grown on the Pézenas parcels. The Viognier was more herbs and grasses than fruit and would disappoint someone expecting classic aromatic apricot notes. The Rousanne was linseed and melon meets apple peel, a very attractive food white and a bit of a bargain.

Rosé 2009 was dry and mineral with a perfumed palate, very much Provence style and ideal with a meal. Made from the free running lightly coloured juice (saignée) of mainly Syrah.

2007 was the Coulshaw's first harvest after purchasing the estate, the under performing Domaine du Moulin de Couderc and a name re-used for one of their Faugères reds.In 2008 the devastating early September hailstorm only spared the Rousanne and was a massive blow for established growers let alone new arrivals.

Simon and Monica
Pézenas Tradition 2007 showed elegant light ripe red fruits with hints of mild coffee beans. Soft with a mature roundness. Simple yet drinks well. I tried a bottle a few days later and it didn't disappoint. 70% Grenache plus Syrah and Carignan. Simon talked about the challenges making Grenache poses and he's clearly equal to the task.

Faugères Tradition 2009 has more structure and nice gripping tannins with darker fruits, pepper and spices. Do the terroirs make a difference? Here my vote would go to the differences due to the cépages. This Faugères has 40% Syrah and 30% each of Mouvedre and Grenache.

Pézenas les Dèves 2007 is a fuller version of the Tradition with more pepper and hints of thyme (Grenache reduced to 50%). Sort of a weekend wine to the midweek Tradition.

Faugères Mourels 2007 is meatier and sweeter with a richer finish than its Tradition counterpart. It also ups the Syrah content.

To finish there was an interpretation of Simon's curiosity to emulate one of his favourite wines Côte Rôtie. A Syrah/Viognier 2007 oak aged with 90% Syrah from a schist vineyard. This didn't do much for me - too much oak vanilla that hides its roots and I found the structure curious even though the idea is for the Viognier to soften the Syrah. I would keep a few years to aid integration. I also admit to not having tried a Côte Rôtie for many years.

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