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Domaine Mas de Lavail (France) Tradition 2003
This Côtes du Roussillon Villages is made from a blend of southern grape varieties (40% Syrah, 40% Carignan and 20% Grenache), with all vines 50-years-old or more. From the fantastically hot vintage of 2003, it has vibrant purple colour and concentrated, schisty, charcoal and raspberry nose with hints of pepper and dusty blueberry fruit. That charcoally, Syrah-dominated quality persists on the palate, which has a raft of bittersweet, edgy black fruit flavours in a medium-bodied format. A depth of smoky, dark, bitter chocolate fills out on the mid-palate, with plenty of spice, a slick of vanilla and dry, savoury, leather and plumskin notes. This has that lovely Rhône-like character that combines super-sweet fruit and restraining acidity and tannin in a lovely all-round package. Excellent. 8.85