Wine: A Drop of Rich, Fruity Collioure Could Have Saved My Much-Mourned Horse

Article excerpt

Tucked away below the eastern tip of the Pyrenees, its vineyards running up to the Mediterranean coast, in the last pocket of Catalan France before the real Catalonia, lies one of the smallest of the French appellations--just 800 acres of vineyards, making red and rose wines from Grenache Noir, Carignan and Mourvedre, with Syrah and Cinsault for spice.

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The red wines of Collioure are rich, round, fruity and smooth like the luscious female nudes of the sculptor Aristide Maillol, who lived in the region and whose tomb stands by the vineyard of Clos Chatard. Roll the name "Maillol" in your mouth while imagining well-shaped buttocks and well-matured wine, and you won't be far from the taste of Collioure. It is the serene, robed and pontifical version of a flavour distantly imitated by those recently ordained candidates from the Languedoc. Its soft tannins and cherry-brandy aftermath ensure that, if anything can revive you, you will be revived by Collioure.

Alas, when my noble, generous, ever-to-be-mourned horse Barney collapsed beneath me last month in Badminton Park, there was no Collioure to hand. He opened his mouth as though to beg for some such potion, then, finding no relief, neighed twice from the encroaching darkness and died. No drink revives Barney's memory more vividly than the Collioure that might once have revived his heart. And it is with a bottle before me that I recall his virtues, and his determination to go on, half blind, arthritic and yet still a leader of the herd, to the very end. …