Roussillon sits just east of northern Mediterranean Catalunya and in fact Roussillon IS Catalunya, or at least it should be (or should have remained so). But through some unfortunate bargaining session involving Louis XIV and the Spanish crown after a long war, Roussillon (Rossello’ in Catalan) was separated from the rest of its family as a spoil of war and became “French”.
But even prior to its annexation to France, Roussillon was the rugged hinterland of Catalonia – arid rocky elevations that are sunbeaten during the day and bracingly chilly the same night. And as a part of another country altogether, over the centuries, Roussillon became even more isolated, which wasn’t so great for local development, but allowed for, among other things, the preservation of thousands of acres of gnarled, knotty, bush vine Carinyena (Carignan) and Garnatxa (Grenache). The local farmers, who knew no other vines, tended these Carinyena and Garnatxa vineyards dutifully over the years as the regions all around them, and all around the world, began planting Cabernet and Syrah and Pinot Noir.
So what was done in Roussillon for so long out of necessity and perhaps even a bit of desperation, in 2010 means 50, 75, 100+ year old vines producing intense bunches of fruit packed with terroir. And wines like Walden, whose story is worth a read.
I served this ageworthy, very “natural” wine with a lentil soup laced with pimenton (no pic.), and then fried top round scalloppine, and then braised in a mixed mushroom, vegetable, and wine sauce (fricando` in Catalan) and peas with mint and prosciutto.
Walden Cotes de Roussillon 2007
Saturated almost blackish purple color with a crimson rim. The nose is a potent and pungent bundle of wood smoke, crushed juniper berries, black cherry, cocoa powder, loam, and soy sauce. The palate is powerful and dense, with peppery, austere tannins, well balanced with clean, rich, and plush plum and blackberry fruit, and dark flower flavors. The wine closes with dried herb notes, and finishes with a fine bitterish warmth.