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2012 Banyuls, Cuvée Léon Parcé, Domaine de la Rectorie
Banyuls is just down the road from Collioure and, whereas one is more famous for red and one for white, they both share the same extraordinary beauty, with a luminous Mediterranean backdrop framing natural bays with steep sea-facing vineyards and balmy breezes. Domaine de la Rectorie, run by the Parce family for over a century, has had the good sense to make wine in both appellations.
Collioure has gained plaudits over the last few decades for the quality of its white wines, but one should not forget that red grapes are still more planted here and that not too long ago they would all have gone into Banyuls.
Their Montage cuvée is planted, as the name suggests, on the highest vineyards and is picked relatively late; it is a fascinating blend of equal proportions of Carignan, Grenache, Counoise and Mouvèdre. The Counoise is especially interesting, celebrated by, amongst others, the Perrins at Château de Beaucastel, and adds aromas of violet and even jasmine to the ensemble.
Cuvée Leon Parce is a classic fortified Banyuls, the Grenache having been allowed to macerate for three weeks in the neutral alcohol (96 % abv), which is added fairly quickly to arrest the initial fermentation. This extended maceration, allied to the innate thickness of the Grenache skins, ensures a purity of structure and avoids any danger of confection.
Simon Field MW, Wine Buyer
Grenache is the most widely planted black grape variety in the world. In the Southern Rhône it provides the backbone for most red blends and is the key component of Châteauneuf du Pape. Some Châteauneufs such as Château Rayas are even made from 100% Grenache. In the Languedoc it plays a key role in many blends and is responsible for much of the Rosé wine from Southern France.
It is the most extensively red wine grape grown in Spain where it is known as Garnacha Tinta - in Rioja it is blended with Tempranillo and is most widely planted in the warm Eastern Rioja Baja region. The very best Garnacha wines come from Priorat in Catalonia, where fruit from old Garnacha bush vines is blended with small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon to produce wines of startling intensity and depth of fruit.
Grenache was once Australia`s most widely planted black grape but much of it was grubbed up in the 70s and early 80s to make room for more fashionable grapes. However plantings have been on the increase since the early 1990s and the best examples are found in the Barossa Valley from dry-farmed, bush-pruned, old Grenache vines.