2020 Domaine de Majas 'Cortado' Côtes Catalanes

2020 Domaine de Majas 'Cortado' Côtes Catalanes

Regular price $25

Region: Côtes Catalanes < Roussillon < France
Grapes: 50/50 Carignan/Grenache
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming with major biodynamic practices; 20 to 120 years old vines on clay, limestone soils; 3 days maceration; 50% is direct pressed, 50% is de-stemmed and gets a 2 day maceration; the juice is then blended and cofermented in concrete tanks; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal added So2; 12.5%
Winemaker: Alain Carrère

At the foot of the Pyrenees, in Catalan country, Alain Carrère and his wife Agnès farm the 30 hectare Domaine de Majas organically, mostly Carignan grown on schist, volcanic stone and mountainous limestone soils, with tiny bits of Merlot, Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Grenache, Syrah, Macabeu, Rolle and Chardonnay lingering.  Here, in the Côtes du Roussillon AOC, the majority of the wine is being mass produced by cooperatives. But by the early 1990's, the co-op's way of doing business made living solely off of viticulture next to impossible, resulting in approximately 3/4 of the region's vines getting ripped out by their owners.   As a way to "start fresh", those who continued growing grapes (like Alain's father) were then pressured by the co-ops -- hoping to capitalize on the increasing demand for "Bordeaux style" wines -- to widely replant Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. While this strategy worked in the short term, it eventually backfired and furthered the AOC's bad reputation.

The full back-story, as told by importer Louis/Dressner: "By the time Alain took over the the estate in the early 90's, he knew that selling his family's grapes to the cave was no longer an option. He started a small, independent estate (just two hectares), but very quickly inherited over 20 hectares of his father's vines. With a lot more wine to sell all of a sudden, it became increasingly difficult distributing locally.  After struggling to sell his entire stock for many years, a deal too good to be true came his way: a major french supermarket chain offered to buy the entirety of his production as an exclusive for their wine section. A contract was signed, and strict guidelines were set: the rosé had to taste like this, the white like that...'There was no reflection of terroir, the wines had zero personality. They were okay, but could have been coming from anywhere.' Even worse, the bulk prices offered by the supermarket weren't paying the bills; in fact, the Carrère family were actually losing money every year!  Facing bankruptcy, Alain had to find a solution.  Converting to organics briefly crossed his mind, but with no outside guidance or pre-existing market, he did not dare attempt it. But as fate would have it, a chance encounter with Tom Lubbe of Domaine Matassa would change everything.  After tasting the wines, Tom told Alain he would be willing to help them rebuild the estate from the ground up. The two verbally agreed on a partnership, and with Tom's guidance they immediately started converting all 30 hectares to organic viticulture, as well as eliminating all commercial yeasts, additives and excessive sulfur in the cellar. Tom also showed Alain the importance of highlighting different terroirs, a lesson that has produced great results. Alain, completely reinvigorated, is grateful to have had this second chance. The wines being produced today are fresh, elegant and and a real bargain for the quality."

This 'Cortado' is a great example of Majas' fresh, energetic style: a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Carignan that is made like a cross between rosé and light red, with 50% of the juice going direct press (like a rosé) and 50% getting a short 2 day maceration, before blending and co-fermenting.   It's light and bright, falling somewhere between a brooding, dark rosé and the perfect chillable red.  The texture is supple, the fruit is bright and tart, all sour cherries and pomegranate on a rocky, mineral backbone.  Slightly chilled, it’s the perfect partner for a charcuterie platter or picnic spread.


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