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Wine and Chocolate: Banyuls

Bruce Sanderson
Posted: November 11, 2002

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Domaine du Mas Blanc Banyuls Rimage 2000
90 Points, $36
Technique: Fortified

Banyuls is a fortified wine made in several styles, much like Port. The appellation lies in the Roussillon region, where France meets the Mediter-ranean coast and Spain. The region's schist soils also compare with those of the Douro regions. Maury, also in Roussillon, makes similar wines.

Although similar to Vintage Port, this Rimage is made primarily from Grenache (95 percent) with Carignane, Syrah and Mourvèdre. By law, grapes harvested for Banyuls must contain 254 grams of sugar per liter. (Collioure, a separate appellation, makes table wines from the same area.) Domaine du Mas Blanc harvests by hand, destems the grapes, then stops the fermentation by adding neutral grape spirits. The wine then macerates with the skins for three weeks before being aged in tanks.

The aging is important. Rimage, in order to preserve its fresh fruit character, does not have any contact with oxygen. "Banyuls is more fragile than Vintage Port," states vigneron Jean-Michel Parcé of Domaine du Mas Blanc. It is generally bottled after a year, but if the pure, primary fruit aromas of raspberry and cherry have evolved into dried fruit flavors, Parcé designates the wine for a style of Banyuls other than Rimage.

Although high in alcohol, this wine shows elegance and harmony, along with a blast of juicy raspberry aroma and flavor. The supporting notes are of dried herbs and chocolate.

Also Recommended

Wine Score Price
MAS AMIEL Maury Cuvée Spéciale 10 Ans d'âge NV 91 $40
Smooth and complex, with an oxidative element adding coffee and grilled almond accents to the plum and prune flavors. Medium-bodied and balanced, it expands on the finish, embracing a caramel note that lingers. 1,967 cases made. -- B.S.
DOMAINE DU MAS BLANC Banyuls Cuvée de la St.-Martin 1981 90 $64
Mature and complex, offering mushroom, coffee, prune and toffee notes on a firm structure that's beginning to poke through the flesh. Maintains its poise through a kaleidoscopic finish. -- B.S.
LES CLOS DE PAULILLES Banyuls Rimage 2000 88 $18/500ml
Concentrated flavors of prune and caramel. Robust and full-bodied, this shows a little heat, but nothing a good dessert won't tame. 5,000 cases made. -- B.S.
MAS AMIEL Maury 2000 88 $35
Subtle aromas of dried fruit segue into a beam of raspberry on the palate. Medium-bodied and succulent, it's delicious now, but should age well too. 5,665 cases made. -- B.S.
DOMAINE DE LA RECTORIE Banyuls Cuvée Léon Parcé 2000 88 $24/500ml
Young and fruity, with pretty dark plum, red cherry and spice, which linger with chocolaty notes. 1,500 cases made. -- K.M.

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