Illico Rouge 2021

Producer: Domaine des Schistes
Region: Roussillon
Appellation: Cotes de Catalanes
Country: France
Classification: IGP
Wine Type: Red
Variety: Marselan, Cinsault, Carignan
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Alcohol: 13.5%
Soil: Shale, marl and limestone
Farming Practices: Sustainable and organic
Awards: 91-John Szabo; 91-Michael Godel
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Cellar Profile

The Sire family have been grape growers in Roussillon since 1906, as long standing members of the local cooperative. But it wasn’t until 1989 that they decided to vinify and bottle their prized fruit under the name,Domaine des Schistes. As the name suggests, their 50 hectares of vines are planted in predominantly schistous soils around the villages of Estagel and Tautavel. This unique soil-type is found in pockets throughout the region and provides the ideally poor, rocky foundation for quality viticulture in this corner of France. The winery is now under the stewardship of young, energetic Mickaël Sire, a part of France’s next generation of vignerons obsessed with quality and sustainability. Like many young winemakers, Mickaël travelled and worked extensively abroad before returning home to Roussillon to take over the family estate. He farms organically and adheres to the principles of low- intervention winemaking: native yeast ferments; minimal oak; no fining or filtering. These wines are loaded with Roussillon character.


Roussillon is all too often lumped together with its eastern neighbour, Languedoc. And while the two regions do share similarities—namely warm temperatures and common grapes—there are significant and important differentiators as well. From a cultural standpoint, Roussillon, located just over the Pyrenees mountains where the Mediterranean coast runs north before veering east, is more Catalan than French. The climate here is harsh and severe, with extreme heat, minimal rain and a constant, fierce wind known locally as the Tramontane. The soils are incredibly poor, with barely a trace of earth on top of a hard shale, schist and limestone base. All of these factors combine to naturally create incredibly low yields and, as a result, intense, characterful wines. Low yields and small estates also mean higher production costs. On average, the wines of Roussillon are more expensive than those from Languedoc. They are also a little more demanding for the drinker in terms of profile and style. They are most definitely wines that show best with food. And they usually reward patience, be it via decanter or time in the cellar. But they are some of the most expressive, complex and terroir-driven wines you will find.


These bush vines are planted in deep alluvial soils in the commune of Estagel. Vineyard elevations and aspects vary. The old vines are selected for their ability to craft easy-drinking wines that are drinkable young. The vineyards are farmed organically and sustainably, with special care undertaken to preserve the natural surrounding fauna and flora.


Marselan is a crossing between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, having a riper style than Cab but more structure than Grenache typically has. It isn’t widely grown, but is popular in Southwest France and has seen new plantings in China’s burgeoning wine industry. Cinsault is a floral, fruit-driven grape that is widely grown in Southern France and the former French colonies of North Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia). It is used in Rhone blends to add fruit to more austere, tight wines and to enhance red flavours. It does not require high levels of ripeness to give ripe fruit flavours and is able to crop fairly heavily while maintaining character. Carignan had fallen out of favour with Mediterranean winemakers. It is a fairly difficult grape to grow, being particularly sensitive to various forms of mildew. It ripens late and is extremely vigorous, often making rather ordinary wines when yields are not checked. However, when it is mastered, it can give wines of incredible structure and quality.


Hand-harvested, destemmed grapes undergo a short maceration and light extraction by infusion, to favour fruit over tannins. Fermentation takes place in open top concrete, using indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged in concrete vats to accentuate the brilliance of the fruit. This organic wine is bottled early with minimum added sulphites.

Tasting Notes 

A flashy, red fruit-driven nose, redolent with ripe berries and some interesting garrigue notes. The mid-weight palate is framed by mouthwatering acidity. The tannins are quite supple and mild. There is a touch of herbaceousness on the palate but it is integrated nicely with the riper fruit to add character. Flavours of red fruit, kirsch and blackberry with a long slightly spicy finish. Chill lightly and pair with pork tenderloin or cassoulet.