Muscat de Rivesaltes, Les Enfants Sauvages
Muscat de Rivesaltes, 2016, Les Enfants Sauvages
A sweet wine that is mineral and balanced – not cloying or heavy
Region: Roussillon, France
Grape(s): Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains & Muscat d’Alexandrie
Genre: Organic & biodynamic (in mindset, not stamp)
Low Sulphur: Yes
Tasting Notes: Poached pear, orange peel, ripe grapes, sweet citrus, balance
Les Enfants Sauvages, or the ‘Wild Child’, is a direct homage to the Jim Morrison songs about finding salvation in the wild state of nature. Carolin and Nikolaus, a French architect and a German leathermaker, were looking for a home in the sun when they came across a beautiful old property in Roussillon. They immediately fell in love with it. The only ‘problem’ was that it came with 8 hectares of vines – and neither of them was a winemaker. But, finding salvation in this wild nature, they bought the property and Carolin took a course in Oenology. They are making wine naturally, with organic methods and biodynamic remedies in the vineyards, a few miles from the Mediterranean and a couple of hundred metres above sea level. Their total land is 12 hectares, 8 of which are vines, and the rest is natural garrigue vegetation – almond, fig and olive trees, thyme and rosemary bushes. They truly are the ‘wild children’ of Roussillon, learning through experience they’ve gained since their first vintage in 2002.
Muscat de Rivesaltes is a fortified sweet wine from Rivesaltes in Roussillon. It is typically a blend of Muscat grapes, and this fantastic example is around 90% Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains and 10% Muscat d’Alexandrie. The hand-picked grapes start to ferment in stainless steel and then grape spirit is added when there is still around 100 grams per litre of sugar, stopping the fermentation. This creates a sweet wine, but it is balanced with the grade acidity and the minerality of the limestone terroir in Rivesaltes – their use of steel means the wine retains pure fruit character and does not oxidise in the way some of these wines can. It is fresh and aromatic, with sweetness balanced by minerality and freshness. It is a perfect accompaniment for many desserts, as well as cheese, or can be enjoyed instead of a pudding for an indulgent and boozy post-dinner treat!