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We're very proud to be working with the witty and affable Jean-Francois Deu at Domaine du Traginer, and we have just received a new shipment of these unique and delicious wines that belong on your table this season! Last Friday we tasted all the new arrrivals and customers and staff alike were unanimous in their praise for these superb wines. While all the wines showed beautifully, we'd like to especially feature the 2015 Banyuls Blanc - it's a fantastic and refreshing summer aperitif and will accompany seafood dishes and a wide variety of appetizers as well - and it's Biodynamic!
"Banyuls and Banyuls Grand Cru are the appellations for France's finest and certainly most complex vin doux naturel" says The Oxford Companion to Wine, and we have enjoyed fine examples from Dr. Parcé, Domaine de la Rectorie, La Tour Vieille, and others. Recent tastings of the Banyuls and Collioures from Jean-Francois Deu at Domaine du Traginer have been a revelation and we are glad to have these magnificent wines on our shelves. M. Deu took over the family estate in 1975, named after his uncle Anicet who was the last mule-driver ("Traginer" in Catalan) in Banyuls. In 1988 he began to work his parcels in organic and biodynamic agriculture, with a large portion of the estate again worked by mule. Currently certified by Ecocert, the estate is also a member of Nicolas Joly's Renaissance des Appellations. No yeasts or enzymes are added, nothing except "très bon raisins" and a small addition of SO2. The Banyuls are aged in hundred-year-old barrels, the Collioures in newer barrels and foudres.
The red Banyuls are made with Grenache, Grenache Gris, and Carignan with the traditional method of "mutage" - the fermentation is stopped by addition of alcohol, followed by a long maceration and aging in barrel. The complex and delicious 2008 Banyuls Grand Cru was aged for 6 years. The Banyuls Ambré, made with Grenache, Grenache Gris and Muscat, spent 15 years in barrel, yielding an astonishingly distinctive, long, and mineral wine. The Banyuls Rimage and Banyuls Blanc are aged briefly in stainless steel, giving superb aromas and forward fruit; they are perfect as aperitifs or with fruit deserts. While we may not share the French way of enjoying a sweet wine as an aperitif or with dessert, the sensational quality of these wines may encourage you to become a bit more French in your habits...
The still wines of Collioure have not enjoyed great popularity in the US as the reds are often over-ripe and monolithic, and the whites are sometimes heavy and undistinguished. The great vineyard work at Traginer, however, produces reds with great complexity of fruit and flavors of earth and minerals balanced by good acidity - real wines of terroir that express the schist soils and sun-baked hills of Collioure. The Traginer white is simply outstanding. Made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, and Malvasia, the wine shows subtle aromas of stone, white fruits, lime flower, brown spice, and resin, lifted by firm acidity. The palate is dense and very mineral with pear and dried herbs, very long, fresh and stony. The Traginer Rosé is exceptional as well, with dark onion-skin color, aromas of ripe peach, red fruits and spice with terrific depth and length with firm acids.
Jean-François Deu at Domaine du Traginer is doing exemplary work both in the vineyard and in the cellar - these unusual, distinctive and delicious wines deserve your attention. DL
This is a gorgeous Banyuls Blanc, that is to say a Vin Doux Naturel (at 17% alcohol) made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Muscat grown in Traginer's organic vineyards above Banyuls. Beautiful aromas of lime flower, apricot, citrus, pear and almond. Very floral. The palate is deep and medium-sweet with candied citrus, apriot and stone flavors and terrific length. Serve not too cool, as an apéritif or with desserts of peach, apricot, pear and melon. Absolutely delicious! DL
This superb wine is made from Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc and Muscat, aged for 15 years in small, very old barrels. Complex aromas of citrus, tea, prune, flowers and caramel. The palate is balanced, with a pretty melange of citrus, white fruits, earth and secondary flavors, very long and lifted by nice acidity. A gorgeous vin doux naturel that will accompany aged cheeses, figs and foie gras, and it's sensationally beautiful by itself. Really a unique and delicious wine. DL
Jean-Francois Deu makes beautiful wines on his biodynamic estate in Collioure, including this outstanding 2015 Rosé "Le Gourmand." The wine shows a pretty pink/orange color, with aromas of red currant and strawberry with hints of prune, orange peel, rose and spice. The palate is round and ripe with deep black cherry and strawberry liqueur, but nicely balanced by firm acidity and has beautiful length. Serve this full-bodied rosé with grilled chicken and pork or with an appetizer of olives, cheeses and charcuterie. Lovely wine! DL
Grenache, Grenache Gris and Carignan, aged for six years or more in ancient barrels, bottled without fining or filtration. Jean-François Deu at Domaine du Traginer makes elegant, complex and beautifully balanced Banyuls at his organic and biodynamic estate. The 2008 Banyuls Grand Cru shows fabulous aromas of burnt orange, prune, lemon peel, rose, earth and aged cheese...for starters. Very deep and complex. The palate is ripe and a bit sweet, but refreshing and balanced by bright acidity with prune, red currant, rose and deep berry confit with citrus, brown spice and earth. Beautiful wine - great to sip by itself or serve with fruit desserts and chocolate. Highly recommended. DL
The Traginer Banyuls Rimage (Vin Doux Naturel) at 17% alcohol is an insanely delicious wine as an apéritif or with deserts of chocolate or fruit (figs especially) and goat cheeses. The 2016 shows a deep black/red color and vivid aromas of ripe blackberry, prune, licorice, violets, bitter chocolate and earth. The palate is ripe and lush with blackberry, citrus and cocoa, but very bright and refreshing as well, just delicious. It finishes with citrusy acids and black fruits that linger on the palate - serve cool and enjoy! DL
A great and interesting choice for Thanksgiving, the delicious Traginer Collioure has the weight and density to accompany everything on the table! An outstanding and unusual white made by Jean-François Deu at the organic/biodynamic estate, Domaine du Traginer (Mule-driver) in Banyuls and Collioure. Made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Malvasia from low-yielding vines, on steep slopes of schistes above the Mediterranean. Light gold color. The 2015 is ripe but well-balanced with intense and beautiful aromas of dried white fruits, lime-flower, lemon, stone, almond and pine with hints of spice. Quite complex! The palate is supple and dense with mineral flavors, white and yellow fruits, citrus, pine and brown spice that linger in the very long finish with firm acidity. This is a delicious and versatile wine that will accompany shellfish, grilled fish, chicken in sauce, Asian foods and more. Highly recommended! David Lillie
Equal parts Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah from the steep schist terraces of Banyuls-sur-Mer, this is a pure and concentrated expression of this dramatic coastal stretch of the Roussillon. Dark black red color. Lush aromas of blackberry, black plum, bitter chocolate, licorice, earth and brown spice. The palate is dense, ripe and supple with blackberry, strawberry compote, earth, licorice, ginger and spice, with cool citrus and red currant in the long finish. This is a beautiful Collioure that will accompany a steak, grilled meats, stews, grilled vegetables and tagines. Highly recommended. DL
Cuvée Octobre is made from equal parts Black Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Syrah from vines raised on steep slopes in the Collioure AOC. The organic vineyards are situated high above Banyuls-sur-Mer and are picked late which adds some warmth and depth to the cool minerality from the schist soils. The nose offers aromas of blackberry, thyme, and black-cherry. After being opened for a few days, the layers of aromatics deepened with notes of dried herbs, spice, and red fruit. The palate is round and supple with layers of blackberry, smoke, and hints of citrus, and rosemary on the lengthy finish. This is a food-friendly wine and would pair nicely with braised lamb or grilled steak. Complex and highly enjoyable. Amanda Bowman