Domaine Fontanel Rivesaltes Ambre is a delicious Vins doux Naturels made from Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris. Like Port, the wine is fortified with grape brandy to stop the fermentation and leave the wine higher in alcohol and sweet. It is then aged in large oak barrels so makes on an amber colour and oxidised notes over time. The result is a wine with immense flavour and complexity which is delicious with pudding and cheese. There are sherry type flavours along with Christmas cake aromas, dried fruit, orange peel, figs, dates and walnuts.
Domaine Fontanel is an unassuming winery built into the terraced main street of the sleepy town of Tautavel. It couldn’t be owned by a nicer couple in Elodie & Matthieu Collet who took over the Domaine in early 2017 and have set about modernising the winery and applying their own minimal interventionist approach. Pierre Fontanel, the previous owner, remains on the team as consultant wine maker and together they have formed a formidable team of family, tradition and modernity. The Domaine has 20 hectares under vine which are now farmed organically and the youthful philosophy of Elodie and Matthieu is starting to shine through in the vines. The jewel in their crown, are the old barrels of Rivesaltes Ambre that were tucked away in the loft of the winery. These barrels of fortified, sweet Grenache are deliciously versatile pudding wines that, although slightly unfashionable, are terrific value and super popular.