Reviews 11: Domaine Treloar
Jonathan Hesford and Rachel Treloar’s 10-ha Roussillon domain is sited near Trouillas, in the Aspres zone of that fascinating appellation – right in the centre of the AOC.
Jonathan is a Yorkshireman, and Rachel from New Zealand. Their route to their present lives was an unusual one. “On September 11, 2001,” writes Jonathan, “I was walking to work outside the World Trade Centre. I heard the deafening roar and looked up to see the 737 crashing into the building. I ran home to get Rachel and my daughter Lydia. We came outside just in time to see the second plane hit the tower, just 500 m away. We left with what we were wearing and lived like refugees for two months.” Eventually they got a new apartment – but Jonathan was made redundant on the day they moved in. That meant that he lost his visa, so they had to return to Europe.
A changed man, of course. “The experience made us think about what really mattered in our life. We wanted a different environment for our children. We wanted to have more control over our direction, and to spend time working at something that truly motivates us.” What better than wine, with its bond both to the land and to culture, with its mixture of farming and craft? Jonathan subsequently trained as a winemaker in New Zealand (he was dux of his class at Lincoln), and worked for Neudorf for 18 months – before another return to Europe, and eventually acquiring their property in January 2006. His winemaking philosophy is “to be as natural as possible. I use low levels of sulphur and avoid the addition of acid, fining agents and preservatives.”
You can buy the wines in the UK via Leon Stolarski Fine Wines, and can even order them through the Treloar website for UK delivery: http://www.domainetreloar.com/orderingUK.htm.
The 2009 One Block Muscat is pure Muscat à Petits Grains (so it’s a Côtes Catalanes IGT) with lively, pure Muscat scents and a well-judged palate: all the orange-citrus zing of the variety, but with a soft, rounded finish, too, despite being fully dry. Delicious as an aperitif but it would work with salads and Asian dishes, too.
The 2009 La Terre Promise is another Côtes Catalanes wine from a classic southern blend of Grenache Gris (50%), Carignan Blanc (20%) and Macabeu (30%) given barrel-fermentation and nine months in French oak (25 per cent new). That oak is unobtrusive, just adding a creamy fullness to the scents of anis and fennel, and the flavours of those same spices with gentle mango-like fruits. Much more of a food wine, obviously, with that subtle aromatic and flavour spectrum lending the wine lots of gastronomic aptitude.
There are six reds, all grown on clay-limestone but distinguished by blends and handling. I’ve tasted four of these, and in many ways my favourites are the two less expensive, the Three Peaks and the Le Secret.
The 2008 Three Peaks is mainly Syrah (60%) complemented by Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan – it gets 12 months in French oak. I like its concentration and energy, and its four-square structure, too, with a little refreshing asperity from the Carignan at the very end.
The 2008 Le Secret is another good wine – a similar blend, though with more Syrah (80%) and no Carignan. It gets longer in oak, and has 30% new oak, too. Perhaps the fruit quality is higher here – I loved its blackcurranty style. Indeed with the oak it almost contrived to suggest something claretty. On the palate, it’s pure, clean, fresh, lightly textured and deftly balanced: remarkable freshness and poise from the sometimes over-weighty Roussillon.
The 2008 Motus is mainly Mourvèdre (80%) with the balance from Syrah and Grenache; this gets 24 months in oak (20% new), including American as well as French. I found it a little bit craggy and elemental, with an overly savoury aromatic spectrum and some bitter notes on the finish.
The 2007 Tahi, finally, is a blend of 55% Syrah with 27% Mourvèdre and 18% Grenache given 18 months in French oak (55 per cent new). This is the darkest wine in the range, with dark fruits and sweetly stable-like notes mingling in the aromas, and with an energetic, thrusting, edgy flavour. It’s a challenging and impressive wine with plenty of southern style to it, and ample structure, too.
AJ Reviews: all reviews are based on unsolicited samples. Submission of a sample does not guarantee a review. If sending a sample, please use recyclable packing materials (cardboard) if possible. Reviews can be quoted provided www.andrewjefford.com is cited as source. No scores: too boring, too obsessive, too falsely precise. Coups de Coeur (a particular and possibly irrational enthusiasm) are indicated by ◊!