2018 Rocs des Anges Cotes Catalanes, Languedoc-Roussillon, Australes, France

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France’s Roussillon is the last wine department before entering Spain on the Mediterranean Sea. Much of the vineyard land is within sight of the water, fully exposed to the sun and on perhaps the most arid land in France. The geology of the region is complex and diverse due to the Pyrenees, a three hundred mile long mountain chain uplifted by a tectonic collision between the Iberian and Eurasian plates. The highlands of the mountains are largely made of granite, while many of the lower areas, like vineyards, are heavy in schist and limestone mother rocks. Despite largely being to the west of their vineyards, locals refer to the Pyrenees range as their “magnetic north” because of its strong influence. Roc des Anges’s biodynamically farmed (since 2011) vineyards sit in one of the lowest yielding areas of the Roussillon in the Vallée de l’Agly, a north-facing amphitheater closer to the mountains than the sea and between the villages, Latour-de-France and Cassagne. Cool air from the mountains rushes in at night, creating an extreme diurnal shift, which contributes to the development of complexity in the grapes. Margorie said that the nighttime cold also makes it almost impossible to have a dinner outside, even during the summer. The sun, the intense winds and the nutrient-spare but character filled soils (mostly schist) all contribute to the concentrating of the grapes and their resulting wines. She added: “The enemy here is concentration.” The resulting minuscule yields too easily lead to unnecessarily dense wines—the opposite of her objective.

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