Levano makes his sweet red wine in the style of a Vintage Port, emphasizing the fresh fruit flavors in youth and meant for long aging. This type of Banyuls is called Rimage in the local Catalan dialect and is made in a reductive fashion (by law, it has to be aged 4 to 20 months). Other type of Banyuls are made in an oxidative way: “Banyuls Traditionnel” (aged for at least 30 months) or “Banyuls Hors d’âge” (5 years of aging, either in glass “bonbonnes” or in barrels left outside or in the cellar). Made solely from Grenache Noir, the grapes macerate for 2 weeks after the mutage (addition of grape spirits to stop fermentation). The wine then ages in 400 liters old casks for 12 months. The result is a deep, intense wine with layers of flavors, ranging from cooked plums and dark berry fruits to chocolate and spice. The finish is long, lingering and clean. 80 to 90 gr RS – the minimum by law is 65 gr RS, but some Banyuls have up to 120 gr RS.
About the Producer
Banyuls and Collioure are two Appellation Contrôlée wines which share the same geographical region. The vines grow on terraced, schistous mountainside vineyards located smack up against the Mediterranean Sea near the Spanish border. The steep slopes and very poor soil combined with constantly buffeting winds off the sea makes grape production difficult but yields great wines. The vines grow low to the ground and each must be planted, tended and harvested by hand. Yields are astonishingly low, at most 20 hl/ha.
Created in 1870 in Banyuls-sur-Mer in the middle of the village, Domaine de la Casa Blanca is one of the oldest domaine in the AOC. It consists of 8 hectares of carefully tended vines ranging in age from 70 to 100 years. Vineyard manager Laurent Escapa has been with Casa Blanca since 1989. Hervé Levano, the current winemaker and co-owner, arrived in Banyuls in 1995 and bought shares in Casa Blanca in 2005. Valérie Reig joined the team in 2010. Together, they work to make intense, flavorful wines that combine the best of traditional methods (i.e. wood aging) with the advantages of modern techniques (i.e. temperature control). The total production is 1250 to 1700 cases per year, about half for Banyuls and half for Collioure, plus a few cases of Banyuls Blanc and Hors d'Age. Casa Blanca superb wines have been praised in GaultMillau, Hachette, Dussert-Gerber and the Revue du Vin de France and have been awarded the prestigious Saint-Bacchus award for best of Roussillon.
Farming/vinification practices: 5 hectares are farmed organically (but no certification). 3 other hectares are farmed sustainably. Low sulfites added. The wines are vegan.
Domaine de la Casa Blanca
Hervé Levano working the soil with a treuil - Empuse, a species of praying mantis