Collioure is a gorgeous place. It's an old French fishing port close to the Spanish border on a craggy stretch of coastline where the Pyrenean mountains tumble into the Mediterranean. Historically it's more famous for its anchovies than for wine, although the spectacular terraced vineyards that overlook the town have produced wine for centuries. A large, but declining proportion of this is bottled as Banyuls AOC (its southerly neighbour). Whereas Banyuls is a sweet port-like fortified wine, and one of the few wines that's reliably good with chocolate, Collioure AOC produces supple flavoursome red and white dry unfortified wines, often with a distinctive saline tang. Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre perform beautifully here, being well suited to warm, coastal locations. Whites are drawn from a broad palette of grapes including Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Marsanne, Rousanne and Vermentino. I'm rather partial to Collioure as we regularly spend holidays in this part of France. (Apparently, Brigitte Bardot seriously considered Collioure before settling on St Tropez as her holiday retreat. That decision was fine by us – it keeps this generally overlooked corner of France within our budget.)
I am often drawn to quirky wines and particularly like Collioure Blanc. We bought this artistically labelled bottle on holiday in the summer. I admit I do like the picture on the label – well, the wine is called Cuvée des Peintres – and, at about 8 Euros, it was quite a reasonably priced example.
The Wine Society currently stocks some great examples of this style of wine both from Collioure and from the broader region which are labelled Côtes du Roussillon or Vins de Pays des Côtes Catalanes. Expect to pay in excess of £10 or £15 for these and £23 for Domaine de la Rectorie Collioure Blanc l'Argile 2010. However, Sainsbury's are currently stocking a Languedoc Blanc in their reliable Taste the Difference range. It's made from a similar blend of grapes (in this case Grenache, Marsanne and Vermentino) and is a big, satisfying, complex wine that, at £7.99, really punches above its weight (and is selling well – the big Camden branch had sold out when I was there last week).