Côtes du Roussillon (Corneilla-de-la-Rivière), France
Located just outside the village of Corneilla-de-la-Rivière, Domaine Boucabeille is run today by the young Jean Boucabeille. The domaine covers 28 hectares of vines planted mostly on the steep, schist, south-facing hillsides of the Forca Real Mountain. Geologically Força Real is in layers, with schist on top, and vineyards going from 150 – 400 metres. The south-easterly orientation of the land draws in the influence of the sea and means protection from the blazing evening sun.
A relatively new operation, the idea behind the contemporary domain was to use vines replanted on the very hillside where for centuries the best wines in the region originated. Wine growing had in fact been abandoned during the 20th century as it was considered far too laborious and unprofitable. Replanting took place in the mid-1970s, in the heart of the scrubland and amidst a fauna and flora extremely hostile to young vine seedlings. The steep slopes of the vineyard ensure that all work in the vines is carried out by hand, including ripping up garrigue to make room for the vines and terraces on these incredibly steep slopes. Holdings comprise Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre, alongside Grenache Blanc, Rousanne and Macabeo. Now with an average age of over 20 years old, the vines are fully established on the hillside, optimal for quality grape-growing.
The farming here is organic and the winemaking is incredibly non-intrusive. The entire crop is worked and harvested by hand, and fermentations occur naturally without recourse to cultured yeasts. Winemaking involves concrete vats for the entry-level wines, and judicious use of oak for the more ‘serious’ cuvees. Extraction is kept to a very gentle level, resulting in wines that are both structured, but supple and fresh. Throughout the range, the wines are emblematic of Roussillon. Generous, schist and garrigue-infused dark fruit characters are combined with exceedingly suave tannic structures. Alcohol levels are modest for the region and almost inconspicuous in the finished wines – and the general sense of freshness that pervades the range makes these wines highly delicious and drinkable. All the wines, from the entry-level to the top cuvees share a sense class and elegance. They are classically oriented wines, with lush fruit, spice, and, for the top cuvees, offer some serious ageing potential.