“Cayrols” Carignan Vielles Vignes 2014, IGP Côtes Catalanes – Domaine Lafage
Domaine Lafage is a relatively new, family-run estate covering 116 hectares in Roussillon. Traditional Catalonian varieties like Grenache, Carignan and Muscat take centre stage, and the focus is very much on export. Wines are generally well-made and solid, and there are some excellent parcels of vines, particularly in the high country.
The Wine in Context
The vineyards for this wine are situated relatively high up in the valley of Agly, which is near to the village of Maury – a village that is justifiably famous for another style of wine that is dear to my heart: Vin doux Naturel. The appellation, IGP Côtes Catalanes is a large catchall for most styles of still wine in the region, with its focus very much on the Catalonian heritage. It permits varietal labelling and monovarietal wine.
This wine is made with 100% Carignan, sourced from small parcels all over 60 years of age. Yields are low, at 20 hectolitres per hectare. The wine was macerated for a week, and 10% of the cuvee was aged in barriques for a month – not a long time, but the wine doesn’t need it in any case, as it is intended to be drunk young.
The Tasting Note
Typically bright, clear and deep, as Carignan usually has good colour. Aromas of sweet anise, raspberry and red plums, with a salty mineral edge.
The palate is fresh and vibrant, red fruits taking centre stage and just a touch of tobacco to complement the savoury herbs that are playing a minor role. Tannins are supple, ripe and smooth…perfect for drinking now.
This wine is not overly complex and it is easy to drink. Bright fruit, vivid freshness, fun, frivolous, enjoyable…what more do you want from a wine in this price class? And it’s Carignan! The grape from which only bad things come… sure, there could be more concentration, a bit more depth, perhaps..but I find even in wannabe HUGE Carignan wines there isn’t massive depth. The wines might be complex, but bright fruit and drinkability seems to be the thing that characterises good examples of the grape. The minerality is lovely – another hallmark. Not the rough and herbaceous edge, nor the insipid nature of overcropped Carignan here… sweet herbs, fine structure, and pour me another glass, please!
Now a word of caution: open this wine and drink it reasonably quickly. I tasted this like I taste all my wines: over the course of three days. By the third day that fine red fruit had moved pretty far into prune territory, and it had lost a fair bit of its charm. Also not a huge surprise for the style of the wine – but good to know.
The One-Line Takeaway
Enjoy the fruit and fun!