Les Clos de Paulilles: one of the marvels of the Côte Vermeille!
FEATURE STORY

Les Clos de Paulilles: one of the marvels of the Côte Vermeille!

Pierrick Jegu By Pierrick Jegu, Editor 08.09.2022

As one of the flagship estates of the coastal area of the Roussillon region, Les Clos de Paulilles in the Collioure and Banyuls appellations really has it all: breathtaking scenery, superlative wines and a remarkable instinct for hospitality.

An up-and-coming vineyard

Along with Jura, Savoie and Aveyron, Roussillon is one of a number of wine regions that has been a true revelation in recent years. Among wine merchants and in bistros where the doctrine of natural organic farming is preached, this extreme southwesterly vineyard has become one of the flagship regions for wine selections. And rightly so: over the last fifteen or twenty years, the affordable price of land has seen the arrival of many young growers steeped in talent and inspiration. So have they created a new winegrowing region entirely from scratch? Of course not! Vines have been growing here since time immemorial, on gently sloping hills and extremely steep drops – so much so, in fact, that many kilometers of dry stone walls have been built to divide the mountains into terraces.

Les Clos de Paulilles: one of the marvels of the Côte Vermeille!
  • ©LOUIS-LAURENT GRANDADAM

    Two flagship appellations

    There’s nothing new about the Collioure appellation. A dynamic producer of all three wine colors, it derives its impetus from new estates and historical properties which, in many cases, also produce Banyuls, an AOP vin doux naturel. The celebrated appellation is even entitled to refer to itself in the plural because of its different versions – red, amber and white, which is very rare! – rosé, but also “traditional”, Rimage or Vintage... There is a significant overlap between these two appellations, from vines perched several hundred meters above sea level to plots bordering on the sea itself. And one of the estates that is proud to fly its colors is Les Clos de Paulilles…

    Les Clos de Paulilles: one of the marvels of the Côte Vermeille!
  • ©LOUIS-LAURENT GRANDADAM

    A standard bearer

    Were there to be a contest for the most beautiful wine estates in France, this is one that would have a strong case to make... Imagine for a moment: a coastline dotted with bays, headlands and creeks, mountains descending more or less steeply before vanishing into the waters of the Mediterranean, and its vines planted within touching distance of the sea and the sandy beaches. Between Collioure and Banyuls, the cove of Paulilles is certainly one of the most attractive parts of the Côte Vermeille, which stretches from Argelès to the Spanish border. A real-life postcard, but Les Clos de Paulilles is no castle made of sand; rather, it is a bona fide wine estate and a flagship of its region. Created in 1800 by the Bernardi family, it was bought in 2012 by the Cazes family, already owners of a huge estate of some 200 hectares in the Agly valley, inside Roussillon. How to describe the soil of the Clos de Paulilles? Nearly 90 hectares, some 20 of which are given over to fallow land and scrubland, and some 70 hectares of vines, rooted in the schistose soils characteristic of the region. The vineyards receive little water, instead being roasted by the sun and often battered by the cool and damp wind from the sea, or the violent, dry, hot tramontane. When it comes to landscapes, “harsh” and “beautiful” are in no way a contradiction in terms!

    Les Clos de Paulilles: one of the marvels of the Côte Vermeille!
  • ©LOUIS-LAURENT GRANDADAM

    Attentive to the terroirs and their grapes

    In terms of vines, a clear decision was taken a few vintages ago to protect the environment and maintain biodiversity. The evidence: maintained hedges and groves, and the famous dry stone walls. But most of all, Clos de Paulilles means five grape varieties, including Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan; a desire to get the best out of each micro-terroir with its own unique exposure and geology; and an insistence on harvesting the grapes only when perfectly ripe. The result here: harvests that extend over several weeks. The grapes are then brought to a cellar featuring beautiful old architecture. This spectacular building is home to all type of containers: concrete vats, barrels, amphorae, etc. And the purpose of this winemaking? To respect the terroir and its grapes as much as possible, and to give the southern character of these wines a balance that could be jeopardized by global warming. In the Collioure and Banyuls appellations – for vin doux naturel wines – Les Clos de Paulilles has a wide range to offer: dry, fruity rosés, mineral whites, lively and generous reds, and Banyuls with finely weighted power… So how can you sample them? That couldn’t be easier. Head straight down to the sales and tasting cellar, or grab a seat on the lovely restaurant terrace, perfectly located a few steps from the beach. These two wonderful options make Les Clos de Paulilles a hotspot for local wine tourism.

    Les Clos de Paulilles: one of the marvels of the Côte Vermeille!
  • ©LOUIS-LAURENT GRANDADAM

    Taste France Magazine’s Les Clos de Paulilles selection

    AOP Collioure - Cap Béar white - 2021

    This wine is finely balanced. Its richness and depth of expression are perfectly counterbalanced by remarkable freshness and a highly mineral finish. The aromas? An astonishingly complex combination of iodine, white-fleshed fruits and scrubland. Enjoy with Mediterranean fish and – why not? – a seafood risotto.

    AOP Collioure - rosé 2021

    This fresh and very pleasant rosé exudes notes of red berries and citrus fruit. A natural choice for an apéritif, summer salads or grilled lamb.

    AOP Collioure - red 2020

    On the nose, ripe fruit and spices… A blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache, this is a wine that relishes its Mediterranean identity. A bottle packed with generosity and eloquence, yet not to the detriment of finesse and refinement. Enjoy with meats in sauce, grilled meat, etc.

    AOP Banyuls Grand Cru - 2015

    Plenty of complexity, volume and length from this vin doux naturel, which readily shows off its aromatic repertoire combining cocoa, black berries and other hints of spice and vanilla. The perfect accompaniment for chocolate/red berry desserts.

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    Alcachofas de Benicarló
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    PDO Cévennes sweet onion
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