Home > Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > A Twist on the Wines of Maury

A Twist on the Wines of Maury


I had seen bottles of Orin Swift D66 wine on the shelves of Pete’s East Lake in Seattle.  I never bought a bottle but knew it was some sort of red wine from Roussillon.  If it were not for the price I would have tried this Roussillion wine made by the Californian winemaker Dave Phinny for I rather like the region.  Little did I know I was tasting another of Dave’s wines last week for in my mind D66 and Shatter were produced by two different winemakers.  Though Dave worked on both wines their pedigree is a little bit different.  Dave went on to build a winery in Maury and subsequently told Joel Gott about the region.  According to the website Joel became interested by the unique terroir and the incredibly concentrated fruit which could make the darkest of French wines. Thus excited Dave and Joel created Shatter with the involvement of Trinchero Family Estates.

Maury, Image from Shatter Wines

Maury, Image from Shatter Wines

I was not confused at first for the initial sips revealed a concentrated wine with intense fruit flavors and a black, mineral finish which clearly needed to be chilled down. It showed potential.  With air there was a distinct highly extracted, dried fruit quality to the wine.  It was not the sort of wine you could drink much of, it really was strong stuff.  Why would you make a wine with these sorts of flavors?  Surely this came from the 30 day period the fruit was cold-soaked before fermentation.  Descriptions of “intensely concentrated flavors” in the grape clusters and “further concentrate the wine” are found in the Fact Sheet.  This describes vinification more than intent.  The real answer lies with Maury, the region in the Roussillon where the fruit is sourced from.  Maury is known for fortified vin doux natural produced from primarily Grenache Noir, I make the distinction because Grenache Blanc, amongst others, is allowed as well.  Maury is vinified similar to Port in that fermentation is arrested through the addition of spirits but the initial aging period takes place in glass demi-johns.  After which it may be aged in wood.  A proper Maury must have an alcohol level of at least 15%.  Descriptions of raisin, prune, and fig may be found.

One of Orin's Vineyards in Maury, Image from Shatter Wines

One of Dave’s Vineyards in Maury, Image from Shatter Wines

Dave originally purchased 30 acres of vineyard then expanded his holdings to some 300 acres.  These are old vineyards which include vines planted between the two World Wars.  His yields are low, down to half a ton per acre.  The name of the wine Shatter is an English term for Coulure which is a carbohydrate deficiency in vines that causes the vine to conserve resources instead of developing the fruit.  Grapes may be dropped and sugar levels are reduced thus lowering yield.  I am unsure if they actually produce wine from Coulure affected vines nor if this type of deficiency makes good tasting fruit.  If  both are true then the name of the wine and label are interesting.

I think I approached this wine wrong.  I was not tasting a red wine, I was tasting a twist on the traditional fortified wines of Maury.  In Jancis Robinson’s article The archivist of Roussillon you may read that a Maury wine may not change even after two decades in barrel.  This is different.  It is evocative of Maury but may be drunk young and will certainly last for many days once the bottle is opened.  Do not try this with dinner for you will be perplexed.  Instead you should end your evening with a glass.  This wine was sampled at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Sarl Fractured, Shatter, VdP Cotes Catalannes
Imported by USA Wine West.  This wine is 100% Grenache which was aged for 12 months in 75% new French oak.  Alcohol 15%.  The nose is eventually of dried fruit, cranberry-raspberry, and extracted aromas.  The flavors are an intense mixture of Christmas spice and berries with a underlying red fruit and blackness.  There were minerals and a little salty, weighty aspect which went with the cherry chocolate note.  I picked up a  dried fruit, concentrated feel.  The tannins were very smooth and ripe making way to a very long aftertaste.  This should last at least one decade.

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