I hesitate to point this out, but I think talented young wine producer Marjorie Gallet must be underpricing her wines – or is it that everyone else is doing the reverse?
Whatever the explanation, her beautifully made (and packaged) artisanal reds and whites seem like bargains alongside the competition. And, make no mistake about it, there is suddenly no shortage of competition in this far northern corner of Catalonia in the hinterland of Perpignan. Old hands such as Gauby and Mas Amiel have been joined by incomers from all over the France and beyond. Just key 'Soula' into the search box for example to access previous articles on this dynamic part of France which keeps changing its name (Fenouillèdes, Maury, Côtes Catalanes…). Chapoutier, Thunevin, Frédéric Engerer of Ch Latour, Sam Harrop MW of New Zealand, Tom Lubbe of South Africa, Richards Walford of the UK are just some of those eager to realise the potential of the reliable sunshine and interesting, often schistous, soils of this 'new' French region.
See a previous wine of the week for details of Marjorie Gallet's organically farmed patches of schist and her admirably gentle approach in the cellar. It's certainly unusual for me to choose two wines from the same producer in a year but I can't think of anyone else who offers such delicious hand-crafted wines at such keen prices. And I was told that yields for this wine were as low as 15 hl/ha. Perhaps she's doing it for fun?
I came across this particular bottling at a large tasting in London of French wines this summer where it was shown by UK importer Cave de Pyrène who have such an interesting selection of mainly French and Italian wines and from whom it can be bought direct. They say it is 50% Grenache Noir with 30% Carignan and 20% Syrah. (Marjorie has some particularly old Carignan and was at the Carignanfest I reported on a couple of years ago. It's sweet and round with lots of richness although, unlike so many Roussillon reds, it has exceptional vivacity too. It's already a lovely drink, one that could be drunk with pleasure at a wide range of temperatures.
It also has surprisingly wide distribution according to winesearcher.com, with prices ranging from a ridiculously low $13.99 at K&L in San Francisco, through £8.95 from the admirable James Nicholson of Northern Ireland (who offers mail order throughout the UK) and £9.85 at the enterprising wine bar and wine shop Green and Blue in Greenwich, London to several stockists in Germany and Norway. Regular contributor to purple pages David Schildknecht imports Gallet's wines into the US so can presumably tell us even more, should he have recovered from his German trip.