Posted by: tomciocco | December 4, 2011


When all is said and done the national border is a purely political convention. Legion are the cases all around the globe in which people who speak, eat, and worship identically hold different passports, and the bright, dry Mediterranean is no exception.

Specifically, the case tonight is Rousillon, which is in short, Catalan France. In France’s southwestern-most corner, wedged hard against the Mediterranean Sea and the border of (Catalan) Spain (the Emporda` region to be specific), is Roussillon, or as it’s actually spoken on both sides of the “border”, Rossello`. The flags that (voluntarily) fly here are not typically three vertical swaths of red, white, and blue, but rather the red and yellow horizontal stripes of would be independent Catalunya.  

And the vines follow suit. This is the rocky, sunny home to old vines vineyards of Garnatxa, Monastrell, and Carinyena . One of the world’s great and most underappreciated (mostly red) sweet wines – Banyuls – hails from Roussillion, and powerful, rustic dry reds are made in its twin zone Collioure. These and indeed all the region’s wines are genetically as well as stylistically far more Iberian  than Gallic, though the border often makes for labels more frequently written in French rather than in Catalan, much to local consternation…

So to honor Roussillon’s true Catalan identity, I began the dinner with a bit of a shorthand (Jen no likey the anchovies, and I had no time to desalinate salt cod) version of the classic Catalan salad Xato` (sha-TOH), a three fish, escarole, and olive salad dressed with a (home made) Romesco sauce. The main course was a dish specific to Roussillion called Bolets de Picolat (garlickly meatballs stewed in a thick dried pepper, cinnamon, and green olive sauce) with a side of plain white beans.









Domaine Boudau Clots Pilots Les Cargolines Cotes de Roussillon 2009

Blackish deep violet color with a dark, rosy rim.  Bold nose of smokey plum and blackberry fruit, Asian spices, wet, rocky soil, briar, espresso, and dried flowers. The initial mouthfeel is full-bodied, round, and intense, with powerful, tight, and spikey tannins framing dense sweet/tart black cherry and wild strawberry fruit, and flavors of cracked black pepper, butterscotch, and duck sauce. Broad, “blackish” bitter sweet burn on the finish.


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