Domaine of the Bee 2009

domaine of the bee

In August 2010 I reviewed the first two releases of a new high-end domaine in the Roussillon region of France – Domaine of the Bee. It’s the personal project of Justin Howard-Sneyd of Direct Wines. He recently sent me his latest release, the 2009.

Now this is in a similar mould to the first two – quite ripe and generous, with high alcohol. But it still has quite good definition and avoids being soupy and dead-fruity. I still think the wine could be better still if they could harvest before the sugars (and thus potential alcohol) is so high. But for many, this style is spot on. Taste is personal.

Domaine of the Bee 2009 IGP Cotes Catalanes, France
15% alcohol. Ripe and quite alcoholic but with nice definition to the lush balckberry and black cherry fruit. Nice fruit purity and plenty of concentration. Certainly pushing the ripeness boundary but gets away with it, and the sweet, lush liqueur-like fruit is really seductive. Reminds me of a top Alentejo wine with its fruit profile, and a delicious wine for now and near-term drinking. 91/100 (£20 per bottle or £200 per case –  website here)

12 comments to Domaine of the Bee 2009

  • Fatfred

    Awwww! And there’s me thinking this is the kind of wine you deplore……

  • I think I make it clear that it’s not my favourite style. But it’s not soupy and dead-fruity – there’s still some definition and freshness there – so in its style, which is ripe, then I think it’s well done.

  • Steve

    Twenty quid? And a greengrocer’s apostrophe? Hmm, I don’t think you’d have to look hard to find better, better value wine in the Roussillon.

  • Apostrophe now deleted. Am I being too kind on Justin’s wine? It’s a hard call. I think it’s fundamentally a very good wine; just not my sort of thing. I tried to make my own preferences clear, while giving the wine a more objective rating.

  • Just ordered this for my brother for Christmas…I hope he likes it.

  • Wine Drinker

    ‘Twenty quid? And a greengrocer’s apostrophe? Hmm, I don’t think you’d have to look hard to find better, better value wine in the Roussillon.’

    – Bearing in mind the fact that you have not tasted the wine this is quite a statement!

  • Wine Drinker

    ‘I still think the wine could be better still if they could harvest before the sugars (and thus potential alcohol) is so high’

    -By picking earlier the wine would have more aggressive tannins, less concentration, a different fruit character, higher acid and a less opulent mouth-feel etc. In short it would be a different wine. This wine is made in a style that reflects it’s terroir – the hottest and driest corner of France.

  • Yes, wine drinker – but look at le soula or matassa, from the same region – lower alcohol, more ageing potential, more complexity

  • Wine Drinker

    ‘Yes, wine drinker – but look at le soula or matassa, from the same region – lower alcohol, more ageing potential, more complexity’

    I agree with the lower alcohol and more ageworthiness but not necessarily more complexity. Matassa and La Soula are making wines with the alcohol content of a riper style Bordeaux. We should expect wines from the Roussillon to express their terroir and when dealing with old-vine hillside grenache and miniscule yields in such an extreme climate alcohol is bound to come in to the equation. Should all wines the world over ‘aim’ for 13.5% – I think not.

  • MarkT

    Surely you aren’t suggesting that Soula doesn’t express its terroir, Wine Drinker?

  • Wine Drinker

    I am suggesting that winemakers in the quality areas of the Roussillon should not fear alcohol. If there is one area of France that should be producing big Grenache at 15% it is the Roussillon and that style would be the most natural and terroir led. Priorat has shown that ‘big’ is not an automatic substitute for finesse, complexity or terroir driven.

  • Steve

    I would most likely enjoy this wine- I love Priorat and large Grenaches in general. But twenty quid is a lot for an unknown Roussillon. Hell, Kaesler’s mad Avignon is much less than that, and that’s sixteen per cent of chewy Barossa beef, dagnamit.

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