L’Esprit de l’Horizon Blanc 2018 Côtes Catalanes

Thomas Teibert with old vines of Domaine de l'Horizon, Roussillon

A superior dry white and an extremely superior, but rare, rosé from the Pyrenean foothills.

From €17.90, 22 Swiss francs, £22

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Two wines I’d like to draw your attention to this week: Dom de l’Horizon, L’Esprit de l’Horizon Blanc 2018 IGP Côtes Catalanes is a really exciting white, but Dom de l’Horizon Rosé 2018 IGP Côtes Catalanes is truly exceptional, though alas, according to Wine-Searcher, it is currently available only in Germany where it costs just over €36 a bottle but is worth every penny. (Swig in the UK apparently have a little of the 2017, which is also glorious, and will soon be receiving a bit more plus about 100 bottles of the 2018.) L’Esprit de l’Horizon Blanc 2018 is listed on Wine-Searcher in France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and, chez Swig, in the UK.

First that rosé, Dom de l’Horizon Rosé 2018 IGP Côtes Catalanes. When the irrepressible owner of Dom de l’Horizon, and Austrian cooper Stockinger’s representative, Thomas Teibert (pictured above with his typically ancient vines) came to see me recently here in the Languedoc, he assured me that the previous evening he had opened an Échezeaux but had rejected it in favour of his own rosé. I assumed this was just boastfulness. But then I tasted his rosé and can quite easily understand why one might prefer it to many a fine burgundy. Here’s my tasting note (the bit in italics based on information supplied by Teibert):

Certified biodynamic. 70-year-old Grenache Noir vines grown on slate. Directly pressed after five hours' maceration in the press. Ambient yeast and aged in demi-muids on lees for nine months. Just 1,000 to 1,600 bottles made. Cellaring potential 510 years. Serve at 12 °C.
Very pale salmon colour just a little bit deeper than a Provence pink. Really rather burgundian on the nose! Such savour and perfume with a certain sweetness. Really very gorgeous with a lovely satin texture. The acidity is so pronounced and the texture so fine that I'm lapping it up at room temperature though I'm looking forward to enjoying it chilled with sole and tomates confites. So refined! And long. Pretty, with wonderfully pure fruit. Really expands in the mouth. The price seems perfectly reasonable.

It has just 13% alcohol and I gave it 17.5 points out of 20, suggesting it should still be drinking well long into this decade. A very special wine along the spectrum that runs from Grenache to Pinot, one explored to good effect by many an ambitious Spanish winemaker in Gredos and elsewhere. Swig's tiny quantity of the 2017 rosé (available in the US at $124 a magnum and also in Germany) is listed at £49 a bottle and they are expecting more in late August together with some 2018. They are offering Purple Pagers 20% off both vintages of the rosé and the L’Esprit white 2018. See here for more details.

Esprit de l'Horizon bottle

Now to the fine, sensibly priced white Dom de l’Horizon, L’Esprit de l’Horizon Blanc 2018 IGP Côtes Catalanes pictured above. Teibert takes much of his inspiration from Gérard Gauby, an early convert to biodynamics who made the inimitable Le Soula Blanc 2001, a wine of the week back in 2003 when wines from this part of Roussillon were sold as Vin de Pays des Coteaux des Fenouillèdes. The style, transmitted to L’Esprit Blanc 2018, might be described as Coche-Dury white crossed with an outré Spanish white such as a fine Albillo. Here’s my tasting note:

Certified biodynamic. 80% Macabeu and 20% Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains from 30- to 60-year-old vines on limestone. Fermented with ambient yeast in a mix of tank, tonneaux and foudres. Aged for eight months on lees. Thomas Teibert counsels serving this at 910 °C and that it can age three to five years.
Intense, decongestant (aromatic herbs) perfume. Excellent, tense acidity. Much livelier than most Roussillon whites and no obvious sign of the Muscat. Sleek, bone dry with a bit of citrus peel and masses of natural (limestone-inspired) acidity. I wonder whether it might last even longer than the suggested five years?

I gave it 16.5, suggested drinking it between now and 2024, and, despite all that character and extract, it is only 12.5% alcohol. Bravo! Swig have low stocks at the moment but are expecting more in late August and are offering Purple Pagers a special discount. See here for more details.

Teibert says of 2018:

'I consider 2018 as a balanced vintage without excessively hot summer temperatures. We had the best crop ever in our history with 27 hl/ha average yield. Great wines with freshness and vibration. Sure, with good acidity and low pH like we have in almost all the vintages in Calce. The Muscat à Petits Grains was picked by the end of August and the Macabeu in the first ten days of September.'

I wholeheartedly recommend both these wines and am only sorry the 2018 vintage does not seem to be available outside Europe, although Teibert assures me that his wines are imported into the US by Neal Rosenthal (Mad Rose Group) and into Russia by Vinoterra. As is so often the case, the US is a vintage behind Europe and you can find the 2017 L’Esprit (untasted but earlier vintages have always scored 16.5) for well under $40 in the US.

Find L'Esprit de l'Horizon Blanc 2018