Roc des Anges

Roussillon, famous for centuries for its fortified sweet wines, is now nearly unknown—but it has incredible diamonds in the rough. The landscape is striking: it's hauntingly beautiful and desolate. Nothing grows on the northern side of the Pyrenées except grapes and olives, which have been cultivated here for thousands of years.

Part of the reason for its obscurity is the fact that it often gets lumped in with its next door neighbor, Languedoc. The reality is the two regions have very little in common: not topographically (the Roussillon is all steep limestone and schist slopes) or culturally (the people are Catalanes, not French or d'Oc).

The extreme topography is in fact what drew Marjorie and Stephane Gallet here after falling in love at agronomic school in Montepellier. With little topsoil, the stark differences in bedrock are displayed right at the surface. Roc des Anges was founded in 2001, named after a white band of quartz flashing between steep, schist slopes in their first vineyard acquisition.

The Roussillon's secret weapon is its wealth of old vines, many of which are decades old. These low-yielding, deep-rooted ancient vines can, when treated right, make wines deeply concentrated with the terroir's myriad elements. The Gallets treat the vines right.

It's hard work and labor intensive, but it pays off: they coax every ounce of terroir out of those vines. These are some of the most elegant wines from a hot place we've ever had. High in acid and low in alcohol, yet wild and powerful.

Read more...