Domaine Lafage Cuvee Centenaire Blanc 2020
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Jean-Marc farms (with some help!) 160 hectares of vines located just south of the capital of French Catalonia, Perpignan. Some of his family’s vineyards are situated a few kilometers from the Mediterranean, while others can be found further inland in the foothills of the Pyrenees or near the village of his birth, Maury. This range of sites allows him to make both refreshing whites, rich, concentrated reds, and fortified wines as well. Benefiting from a warm, dry climate, the estate is farmed organically. They grow primarily Grenache (Blanc, Gris & Noir), Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Marsanne, Roussanne and Chardonnay with a significant proportion of his vines well over 50 years old. The soil, as you near the coast is weathered, alluvial gravel while in the higher elevation sites it is predominantly schist. They harvest by hand and the winemaking is surprisingly uncomplicated with stainlesss steel for the fresher whites but mainly concrete tanks for the reds with a judicious amount of large French oak barrels for aging.
Although it is a region predominantly recognized for fortified, vins doux naturels (a type of sweet wine), Roussillon is also ideal for the production of dry red, white and rose wines. To encompass all the dry wines from the surrounding region that are not the vins doux naturels of Banyuls, Maury and Rivesaltes, the appellation of Côtes du Roussillon was created in 1977. It covers the eastern half of the Pyrénées-Orientales (the eastern side of the Pyrenees Mountains) and lower lands of Roussillon. Côtes du Roussillon includes complex soils of schist, limestone, gneiss and granite and climatic conditions that support many grape varieties.
Côtes du Roussillon red wines are blends made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and smaller amounts of Carignan, Cinsault and the lesser known, Lledoner Pelut. Rosé wines come from the same varieties, as well as may include Grenache Gris and Macabeo. White wines from Côtes du Roussillon are Grenache Blanc and Macabeo with small amounts of Marsanne, Roussanne and Rolle (aka Vermentino).
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended white wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used in white wine blends, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied white wine blend, like Chardonnay, would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.