February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

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February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:49 pm

For this month's Wine Focus, we're looking at all the red, white and rosé wines of France's Mediterranean regions, including Provence in the East and Languedoc-Roussillon in the west. Thanks to Tim York for providing the following "non-exhaustive" list of appellations in these wine regions as a quick-reference guide.

Appellations d’Origine Contrôlées (AOC)

Languedoc

Regional AOCs
Languedoc (may include some from Roussillon)
Coteaux du Languedoc (certain better villages may have their name added, e.g. Montpeyroux, Pic St.Loup)

Principal sub-regional/village appellations
Cabardès
Corbières
Minervois
St.Chinian
Faugères
Fitou
Limoux (includes sparklers)

Roussillon

Regional AOCs
Côtes du Roussillon
Côtes du Roussillon Villages

Principal sub-regional/ village appellations
Collioure

- for sweet fortified wines
Maury
Rivesaltes
Banyuls

Provence

Regional AOC
Côtes de Provence (sometimes sub-regional names tacked on, e.g. Ste.Victoire, Fréjus)

Principal sub-regional/village appellations
Bandol
Bellet
Cassis
Palette
Les Baux de Provence
Coteaux d’Aix en Provence

Some important Vin de Pays (VdP) appellations
Oc
Hérault
Bouches du Rhône
Côtes Catalanes
(NB: some very fine estates use mainly VdP appellations, e.g. Mas de Daumas Gassac and Grange des Pères use Hérault, Trévallon uses Bouches du Rhône, Le Soula and Casenove use Côtes Catalanes)

In Languedoc-Roussilon the appellations are a moving feast. "Languedoc" is a new creation and is regarded as perverse by many as it also includes Roussillon. "Coteaux du Languedoc" is destined to disappear and be replaced by individual sub-regional/village appellations, e.g. Montpeyroux, Pic St.Loup, etc. There may also be similar projects for "Côtes du Roussillon" and "Côtes du Roussillon Villages".

Here is a link to an interactive map of Languedoc-Roussillon wine appellations http://www.vins-languedoc-roussillon.fr ... e-aoc.html .
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:23 pm

Local wine bar still pouring this nice red from the Languedoc, under $20 a bottle up here! Here is a previous note which I cannot find fault with at all, grin wink.

WTN: `07 Les Ruffes La Sauvageonne, Languedoc.

Only $18 Cdn, 13.5% alc, tasted at a recent "Best Bang for the Buck" tasting downtown. Warm earthy nose, black fruits, smoke, meaty. Nice color, good depth. Quite dry, not a lot of ripeness here. Excellent structure, more of an easy-drinking style. Good with aged cheddar.

*******Some of you might remember that I am quite a Pic St. Loup fan, so I will be tasting a few this month. Here is a chatty piece about the area.....>

It’s the Terroir!

Why is Pic Saint Loup the best district in Languedoc? The answer lies in the ‘terroir’. This French word refers to everything that affects the vineyard – soil and subsoil, climate, slope, exposure and the infinite subtleties that distinguish every piece of land from every other.

Pic Saint Loup has a unique microclimate. On my first visit Bernard drove me around in his pickup and explained. Although only 14 miles inland from the Mediterranean, the vineyards average 1500 feet in elevation. They sit in a hilly, irregular valley surrounded on three sides by the Cevennes mountains, 3,000 feet or more above sea level. The descent from the mountains to the vineyards is steep, in some places sheer cliffs.


Days are almost as hot as the coast – as much as 105º in the vineyards mid-afternoon in August. Down on the beach it might be 108º. Nights are different. Cold air pours down, drenching the vineyards in bracing mountain air. At 5:00 AM in mid-August the temperature will usually be below 60 and can fall into the mid-40’s. On the coast, sweltering in your cheap hotel room, you are lucky if it falls below 80º.
The result is the longest growing season in Languedoc, giving the the hang time so important to punters and grapes. The great varietal here is Syrah. In a nutshell: Everywhere else in Languedoc (and the southern Rhone) Syrah is picked in early September. In Pic Saint Loup, the Syrah harvest starts in early October, as in the Northern Rhone. This gives the wines of Pic Saint Loup a finesse unknown in any other Mediterranean vineyard. Think Hermitage and Cote Rotie, not Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tom N. » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:19 pm

Below is copy of my early tasting note on a southern tier wine from France. It was a big boy :!: that needed food. Definitely my type of wine.

Deep garnet purple red. Dark fruit (especially black raspberry) nose with a hint of earthy spice, perhaps cloves? Solid midpalate with nicely integrated and grippy tannins, juicy acidity and purple fruit, mostly ripe plums. Medium to long finish of tingly tannins, more dark fruit, a hint of earthiness and a fleeting flash of heat at the very end. This is a nicely balanced, well-made full-bodied wine that needs some substantial red meat to calm the tannins and allow the fruit to bloom more.

2008 Domaine Boudau, Cotes du Rousillon, 'Le Clos' 15% abv, 80% grenache, 20% syrah

With food: Matched roast beef au jus (french dip roast beef on a bun). The au jus brought out the sweet fruit in this wine beautifully. Nice fruity midpalate with a shorter but fruitier finish. My type of wine-food match.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:53 am

I hope that Bob will succeed in drawing in some real experts to participate in this thread as he did with the Portugal Wine Focus; it made a big difference there. Meanwhile let me try and flesh out from my sketchy knowledge some of Robin’s introduction.

History

Languedoc, Roussillon and, to a less extent, Provence are the most innovative and dynamic wine regions in France, if not in the whole of Europe. This is in large part due to the fact that, being relatively new entrants to the quality wine world, they are much less constrained by tradition than the longer established regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy. The vine has been cultivated in these regions since Roman times but until about the 1980s, wines of Languedoc/Roussillon were mainly produced for bulk sale as “vin ordinaire” or for adding body and alcohol to wines with more famous names further North and the wine of Provence were overwhelmingly dull rosé for quaffing by tourists along the Mediterranean coasts. Certain quality oases were, however, known during those times, for example the Vins Doux Naturels (“VDN” = sweet fortified wines) from Roussillon, Palette near Aix-en-Provence (where Château Simone has long been known for whites of exceptional finesse and fine reds and rosés) and Bandol between Marseille and Toulon.

The picture has been transformed in the last generation and most of the AOCs in Robin’s introduction are of relatively recent origin and are subject to more change in the near future, particularly in Languedoc.

Grape Varieties

The red wines made in these appellations are usually made from a classical cocktail of Mediterranean grape varieties such as Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault but with authorised proportions varying from appellation to appellation; Bordeaux varieties are allowed and indeed are an essential part of the typicity in Cabardès and Cabernet Sauvignon is present in some wines in minority proportions in Coteaux des Baux, Coteaux d’Aix and Côtes de Provence.

The white AOC wines, which have made even more spectacular progress than the reds, are made from Mediterranean varieties such as Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Macabeu (Roussillon), Viognier, Clairette (Provence); Chardonnay and Chenin appear in Limoux where the Chard from Domaine Mouscaillou gives stiff competition to much white Burgundy. Authorised varieties and their proportions vary perhaps even more widely than with the reds from appellation to appellation.

VDPs

AOCs are far from telling the whole story in these regions. Many very fine wines are marketed as Vins de Pays (“VDP”) where the rules allow far greater flexibility with grape varieties than they do in the AOCs and may be sold under varietal labels. Indeed some people would argue that the VDP sector is the most dynamic in Languedoc and Roussillon because growers here seem much less reluctant to leave the AOC comfort zone than they are in other parts of France.

Quality

Quality is all over the place with a lot of wine from the plains still being sold in bulk at very low prices (growers of such wines often demonstrate violently to persuade the state to subsidise them to make bad wine). There are also a number of branded wines coming out of the area, such as those from Robert Skalli which are reportedly not bad. For real wine-lovers, therefore, it is perhaps even more important than in most regions to learn the names of reliable quality producers as well as where the better terroirs are located, more often than not on hillsides. The trouble about going with known names is that it is unfair to a lot of ambitious younger producers who are struggling to make their names to make ends meet. Hopefully, in the USA and UK, wine merchants offering wines from these regions have screened out mediocre wines and offer only good ones, helping the quality conscious younger growers in the process like the Cave des Oblats does here in Liège; supermarkets who need large quantities are less likely to offer that reassurance.

A comment often heard, indeed I have said it myself, is that these regions offer a great variety of robust wines representing excellent QPR for everyday drinking but no “great” wines in the sense that Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhône, Barolo, etc. do. So I offer here a few recent TNs of mine where I think the wines are to close that level, if not already there.


WTNs

From 2008, Trévallon, a wine now sold as VDP des Bouches du Rhône. (The story is told that the estate was expelled from the appellation which owner Eloi Dürrbach helped to create because of his refusal to plant a single Grenache vine to compensate from excessive Cabernet-Sauvignon.)
Domaine de Trévallon – AOC Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Les Baux (then) - 1989 – Alc. 12% - ( € 43,50 for 2005) - made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah roughly 50/50.

I have read complaints about Trévallon in other threads, particularly about brett; also comparisons with Château Musar. It is true that owner Eloi Dürrbach likes living dangerously with brett and VA and without the blessing of the appellation authorities (now), but in this particular bottle everything comes into an exciting balance even though I suspect the presence of both those controversial elements.

C: Medium depth garnet with some bricking.
N: Beautifully integrated and brightly complex aromas with raspberry, cherry, plum, garrigue herbs, varnish, autumnal forest floor and wet leather all blended together with no elements dominant.
P: Not spectacularly big but replaying the aromas from the nose in a harmoniously elegant way showing both brightness and generous depth, velvety mouth-feel, firm but resolved structure and classical shape with crescendo towards the finish followed by a long diminuendo as the aromas fade away gently. This is perfect in its way and the best Trévallon which I have ever opened though some of its predecessors were pretty good; I could have drunk another bottle; 18/20+.


Opened last week cold from the cellar after a CndP Reflets de Mont-Olivet 95 stank of cabbage and sour port and a Gigondas 98 was corked, it was perhaps even better than the bottle subject of this TN from October last year which I have left unchanged. I think this now approaches 18/20.
Coteaux du Languedoc 1998 – Mas Jullien, Terrasses du Larzac – Alc.14% (€21 for 2006), made currently from equal parts of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan.

Unlike most from Languedoc, the wines of this estate have harmony and elegance together with an aptitude to improve with age. This bottle was an outstanding example like a 1989 a year or so ago. It was more robust and less evolved than my memory and TN of an earlier bottle of 1998 in January 2010 and therefore even more lovely with unusual elegance for the region. The aromas on the nose and plate showed primary fruit, some sweet cherry, at first but with airing red rose, Southern herbs, anise and some mint, tar and leather came up and pushed the fruit into the background. Body was medium to full, the palate was well focussed, harmonious with gentle acidity, classically shaped and quite mouth-filling and long with ripe tannic support for the finish. The high alcohol was unobtrusive and a bottle like this could hold for some time to come; 17.5/20+.


From February 2010
Palette Grand Cru de Provence 2001 (white) – Château Simone, near Aix-en-Provence – Alc. 12.5% - (€32 for 2007), made from Clairette 80%, Grenache, Ugni and Muscat. I always think that Ch.Simone is one of the finest whites from the South of France and this bottle was no exception. It was showing considerable complexity and breed with gently burnished notes of wax, discreet exotic fruit and acacia on a medium/full bodied palate with good length, gentle fruit and minerals, smooth/lively acidity and some backbone. The overall effect was elegant and classy; 17/20++.

From December 2009 –
Vin de Pays de l’Hérault 1996 – Domaine de la Grange des Pères – Alc. 13.8% - (€50+ for a new vintage), made from Syrah 40%, Mourvèdre 40%, CabSauv 20% and bottled without filtering.
This bottle had something quite Musar-like, as does Trévallon sometimes, albeit fuller bodied and more powerful. There was a similar discreet lacing of barnyard and VA, which did not dominate but which together added a layer of dark complexity and elegant brightness. As well as this there were complex aromas of plum, cherry, white flowers, some violet and cedar with good depth, full body, freshness and length. The overall impression was a seductive combination of power and lively elegance. On a previous occasion at a club tasting, I complained of accentuation of the volatility, darkening of the flavours and increased bitterness of tannins as the evening progressed but there was none of that this time. (Perhaps we drank the bottle too quickly for these faults to appear but I don’t think so because the bottle with heal taps still smells quite fresh two days later.) A Languedoc classic; 17/20+.
Last edited by Tim York on Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:04 am

Wonderful write up there Tim. I always regard Mas Jullien and Chateau la Roque (Pic St Loup) as two nice introductory wines to taste if one is not conversant with the region. MJ is more upscale whilst the basic Roque is more sort of entry-level. In fact, a La Roque TN is upcoming later today.
I have always promoted Languedoc whites here in the past, namely Lancyre and Negly. Alas, right now the cellar is bare...but plenty of reds of course!

Note posted late last year....>

WTN: `09 Lancyre Rosé Pic St. Loup, Languedoc Fr.

Synthetic cork, 13.5% alc, $22 Cdn, blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. I have learnt to serve this wine well-chilled.

Pale salmon color, very watery rim. On the nose, strawberry and watermelon plus some floral notes.
Minerally, great acidity, tingling tongue sensation. More watermelon than previous bottle/s, lots of zip here. "Some raspberry and more strawberry than I remember" from across the table. Serious effort, kept a glass for overnight inspection and was not disappointed!
Last edited by Bob Parsons Alberta on Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Joy Lindholm » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:59 pm

I am thrilled that southern France was chosen as this month's wine focus! I am a huge fan of wines from the Languedoc, not only for their value, but for their unique character. This is a region that I will always hold fondly, as I spent a week in this part of France in 2005, and while although not a wine trip, drove by many vineyards and had some amazing wine and food! Below is a photo of vineyards near the medieval city of Carcassonne. I have many more pics if anyone is interested!

Vineyards.jpg
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:45 am

Lovely, keep posting more pics!

Whilst here, just to mention Rosemary George`s website and blog. I hope she might show up here?
Her knowledge of the Languedoc region is superb....>

http://www.tastelanguedoc.blogspot.com/
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:59 pm

Saint-Chinian Clos de la Simonette 2007 – Mas Champart – Alc.14.5% - (€18) made from Mourvèdre 70% and Grenache 30%. From its aromatic and taste profile I would have guessed Roussillon as the region and the varietal proportions the other way round. Deeply coloured with well developed fruity aromas, the palate was full bodied and powerful with massive dark and quite sweet woodland fruit and notes liquorice and chocolate building up towards the structured finish. This wine has been highly praised in several guides but I found it a little too primary at present to be my ideal Mediterranean red; I have two bottles left and it will be interesting to see how they develop; 15.5/20++ now.

PS - 24 hours later - the fruit was less forward and more subtle in its bramble notes and secondary flavours, which I associate more with Mourvèdre, like Mediterranean herbs and tar were beginning to come out. This gives me more confidence about graceful middle term ageing and I improve the now score to 16/20.
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[WTN] Chateau de Lascaux 2008 Coteaux du Languedoc

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:05 pm

Chateau de Lascaux 2008 Coteaux du Languedoc ($16.99)

Very dark blackish-purple with a clear garnet edge. Black cherry and a whiff of black raspberry on the nose with a hint of "wet stone" that carries over as a mineral note in a tart, freshly acidic black-fruit flavor, dry and somewhat astringent. Good fruit and mouth-watering acidity and tannin come together in a sturdy structure; appealing and food-friendly, perhaps worth a few years' cellar time. A blend of 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre, a bit heavy on the alcohol at 14%, but in fairness, it doesn't show in the flavor. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (Jan. 30, 2011)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with red meat, roast chicken or cheese; it went very nicely with an Italian-American pasta sauce made with fresh tomatoes and ground bison.

VALUE: Wine-Searcher.com lists it from $13 to $17. It's a good value throughout that range, excellent value at the lower end.

WEB LINK: You'll find the English home page of J.B. Cavalier's Chateau de Lascaux website at this link.
http://www.chateau-lascaux.com/chateau_ ... Page=12863

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Compare prices and locate vendors for Chateau de Lascaux on Wine-Searcher.com.
http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Lasca ... g_site=WLP
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:33 pm

Tim, if I remember correctly Mas Champart use to show up here from time to time. Definately a wine I would be keen on cellaring away! Anyway onto my Chateau La Roque, a maison that had the UK folks a while back praising to the skies!

WTN: `05 Chateau La Roque Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St. Loup.

60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre. Good natural cork, $23.00 Cdn, Kermit Lynch import in the USA I believe. This winery has a fine reputation and this entry-level wine is always very good. They also produce a Mourvedre plus a high-end Cupa Numismae.

Color. Looks almost Pinot Noir-ish. Attractive, no big depth here.

Nose. Strawberry, raspberry, pepper, "grass" from across the table? Nice aromatics here.

Palate. Initial impression was quite savoury, earthy, some ripe fruit. Cranberry and cherry as it opens (did not decant).Nice red and black fruits, soft tannins, well-made wine, not hot! Some chocolate on the finish, held up well overnight. Delicious with home-made ham and chicken ravioli.

Nice Pic St. Loup red to start my month off here!

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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:56 am

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:
WTN: `05 Chateau La Roque Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St. Loup.

60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre. Good natural cork, $23.00 Cdn, Kermit Lynch import in the USA I believe. This winery has a fine reputation and this entry-level wine is always very good. They also produce a Mourvedre plus a high-end Cupa Numismae.



That sounds a nice one, Bob, but CAD 23 sounds a bit steep for an entry level wine; it costs €10 here and that is quite high here for entry level Languedoc, justified probably by the estate's reputation.

It's a pity that you can no longer get Mas Champart. Edmonton needs someone with the same commitment to Languedoc-Roussillon as there is for Portugal to promote this region.

My cellar is becoming quite depleted too. Only two bottles of Languedoc white left and not many red. I may do some random purchases at the local supermarket to see if at the low budget end it does ad well as Portugal.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:36 pm

Tim.

Random purchase? Will in-house Probation Officer turn a blind eye?

Rosemary posted a new write-up today, quote.....What is the most obscure appellation in the Languedoc? How about Malepère?

http://www.tastelanguedoc.blogspot.com/
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:25 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Tim.

Random purchase? Will in-house Probation Officer turn a blind eye?



Bob, as she dissuaded me from going to that Bojolly tasting in Liège yesterday :( (it would probably have cost 2 dozen + 220km round trip), she can jolly well put up with a few Languedocs at plonk prices.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Jon Hesford » Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:55 pm

Hi everyone. Bob Parsons invited me to join in this discussion.
A quick intro.
I'm a winemaker in the Roussillon. My wife and I came here in 2005 excited by reports of the huge potential of the region, having developed a love of wine through Australian, American, New Zealand, Spanish and (some) French wine. I must say that we have not been disappointed.

I can't really speak for Provence, but here we have two worlds of wine co-existing, or rather one world is fading away and a new one is growing. Similar stories are probably happening on other European regions like Mentrida and Catalyud in Spain and the Pfalz in Germany but the Languedoc-Roussillon is the biggest and most most dramatic of them.

Perhaps it is difficult to see how a region could make it's reputation from producing cheap plonk and then change, in the space of a few years, into a quality wine region. Perhaps the misconception is that the LR is a contiguous region. It isn't. Its vineyards cover many different soil types and contain many climates. Some of these are suited to making cheap and cheerful wines and some are better suited to making far more interesting wines but at generally much lower yields. You can't compare the fertile plains around Beziers with the hilly sites in Faugeres even though they are only 30 Km apart and the climate is pretty much the same. For many years the vineyards in the lower-yielding sites were the poor relations. The money was to be made by supplying ripe, consistent, tasty, early-maturing wines at a nice price. That market has dwindled in France as beer and spirits have become more popular and less alcohol is consumed. In export markets that sector has been the one most targetted by successive waves of Australian, Chilean and Argentinian producers who have benefitted from economy of scale, single-ownership and attractive branding. The rug has been pulled from under the feet of those who want to sell the old-style wines. Only a handful of players have remained in the game - Skalli, Paul Mas, Gerard Bertrand and Guy Anderson spring to mind. There is also a market in generic bulk wine for supermarkets and big chains, although not a very profitable one.

Over that last 10-15 years we have a lot of pioneering vignerons taking these "poor" sites and crafting some of the most terroir-driven, complex and enjoyable wines on the planet. The other cool thing is that the LR has lots of grape varieties to play with. Yes we have plenty of Syrah and Grenache, like the Rhone and Australia, but we also have old Carignan, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Grenache gris, Vermentino, Macabeu and Mauzac. Because we can make wines under the Vin de Pays rules, we can experiment with single varietals or non-traditional blends. In fact some of the greatest wines of the LR are non-traditional blends or "foreign" varieties grown on non-typical terroirs. It's nearly always worth trying an LR wine that is not mainstream.

These are the two worlds that exist side by side. There are producers who try to do both and those who try to do something in between too.

Most of the world still thinks of the LR of the old generation. I still find it amazing that most merchants in the UK just see the LR as a source for the cheapest French wine they can find. I think only one or two national chains have anything approaching a Languedoc "grand cru" wine, and that will be one of the really famous, established estates. The same is probably true of North America. In each market there are a handful of importers who champion the new wave. The result is that the chosen among the new-wave have raised their prices dramatically, making them less attractive to people experimenting with wine, while the old-school producers have been forced into making New-World lookalikes and barbecue quaffers. For the wine enthusiast this is a great situation because in between are hundreds of well-priced wines of excellent quality and character. The problem is sourcing them. I can walk into any caviste in the LR and be sure to come out with a case of great wines for under 15€ that would be almost impossible to find in the export markets.

But all of that is of little use to the people on this forum so I'm going to list below some wines which I know are exported that I personally think represent the new-wave of the LR. Please note that while I really love the particular wine, I don't necessarily think the whole range from that producer is great. In fact I am quite divided on many of them. Mas du Soleilla and JM Alquier are the exceptions.

Mas du Soleilla Les Bartelles
Chateau de la Negly La Cote
Domaine Gardies Les Falaises
Clot de l'Oum Numero Uno
Mas du Daumas Gassac blanc
Domaine J-M Alquier, Faugeres (all)
Olivier Pithon Cuvé Lais Blanc
Chateau Millegrande Minervois
Domaine du Mas Blanc Les Cosprons Levants rouge

The other thing I would say is that you cannot single out subregions for excellence, although most wine writers like to try to do that. The INAO, who grant AOC status, are even worse (or more maleable) in that respect. My experience is that some of these "Cru" appellations like Boutenac, La Liviniere and all the Roussillon villages were created based on the performance or political clout of the major cooperative rather than the independent vignerons who are creating the buzz.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:42 pm

Jon Hesford wrote:Hi everyone. Bob Parsons invited me to join in this discussion.
A quick intro.

Jon, a warm welcome to the forum, and thanks for a very informative post indeed! We'll look forward to your contributions on this topic and hope you'll enjoy our community enough to want to stay around.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Henrick » Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:35 pm

Jon Hesford wrote:Hi everyone. Bob Parsons invited me to join in this discussion.
A quick intro.
I'm a winemaker in the Roussillon. My wife and I came here in 2005 excited by reports of the huge potential of the region, having developed a love of wine through Australian, American, New Zealand, Spanish and (some) French wine. I must say that we have not been disappointed.


Hello Jon! Please allow me to join with Robin, our host, in welcoming you to the WLDG. it is people like you with your knowledge that makes this place what it is. I am a big fan of the quality wines offered from the Southern Tier.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:00 am

Thanks, Jon, for those insights into the present state of play in LR and for the list of wines which you recommend.

J-M Alquier is one of my favourites, to such an extent that I have few bottles from him left in the cellar. I hope to open one of his 2006 white this month if the chef puts on a Med inspired fish dish. Négly is also familiar; I am glad that you cite La Côte rather than one of their €50+ :shock: micro-cuvées.

Mas du Soleilla has not come my way; doing a Google or Wine Search I cannot find a Belgian importer although the website (in German only) indicates Belgium as a country where their wines are available.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:06 am

2007 Domaine Tempier Bandol (France, Provence, Bandol)
Very primary as expected, with a nearly impenetrable veil of dark fruit. There's some herbal elements as well, but this is a long, long way from being ready to give pleasure. Right now it's rather formless despite having ample fruit and structure. It seems like a piece of unfinished marble. I'm glad it wasn't my bottle. Leave this one alone for a while.
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[WTN] Coume del Mas 2006 "Schistes" Collioure

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:28 am

Looking around for something from Roussillon, I was delighted to find this Collioure, a Grenache-based red blend from way up in the Pyrenees. where France meets Spain on the Mediterranean coast. Collioure is a neighbor of Banyuls and Maury, where sweet wine is made from a similar Grenache blend. I kind of wish I had had a Banyuls around - it would have been interesting to taste it after the Collioure and compare. I wonder if Collioure goes with chocolate. ;)

Coume del Mas 2006 "Schistes" Collioure ($19.99)

Very dark purple almost all the way to the clear garnet edge. Raspberry and Chambord aromas, appealing but relatively subtle, no "fruit bomb." Red and black berries and plums on the palate, again not the jar-of-jam style but more elegant, structured with tart fresh-fruit acidity and tannins that coat the mouth. Carries its hefty 14.5% alcohol well. Fine with rare steak to cut the tannic astringency. Might be better younger (the 2009 is already on the market). If held for a year or two as a cellaring experiment, I wonder if the fruit would outlast the tannins. I'm inclined to guess not. U.S. importer: European Cellars LLC, An Eric Solomon Selection, Charlotte. N.C. (Feb. 5, 2011)
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:42 am

David M. Bueker wrote:2007 Domaine Tempier Bandol (France, Provence, Bandol)
Very primary as expected, with a nearly impenetrable veil of dark fruit. There's some herbal elements as well, but this is a long, long way from being ready to give pleasure. Right now it's rather formless despite having ample fruit and structure. It seems like a piece of unfinished marble. I'm glad it wasn't my bottle. Leave this one alone for a while.


RVF ran an article a few months ago warning that there was a tendency to heaviness in 2007s from Bandol and that not many estates were really successful; an exception therefore to the stellar reputation of the vintage in the French Deep South. I seem to recall that Tempier was one that they claimed to have succeeded.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:46 am

Tim York wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:2007 Domaine Tempier Bandol (France, Provence, Bandol)
Very primary as expected, with a nearly impenetrable veil of dark fruit. There's some herbal elements as well, but this is a long, long way from being ready to give pleasure. Right now it's rather formless despite having ample fruit and structure. It seems like a piece of unfinished marble. I'm glad it wasn't my bottle. Leave this one alone for a while.


RVF ran an article a few months ago warning that there was a tendency to heaviness in 2007s from Bandol and that not many estates were really successful; an exception therefore to the stellar reputation of the vintage in the French Deep South. I seem to recall that Tempier was one that they claimed to have succeeded.


I would expect this wine to be quite good down the road. I don't like to drink young Tempier, but since it was open...
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Thea Schlendorf » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:06 pm

Thanks so much for your focus on Languedoc wines this month! I am with Benson Marketing Group, the agency representing the CIVL in the US. I just wanted to give some more information on the AOC structure in the region as the CIVL has recently implemented some important changes. All Languedoc AOC wines will now be identified in 3 categories: Languedoc AOC, Grands Vins du Languedoc and Grands Crus du Languedoc.

At the base level are wines labeled “AOC Languedoc”, a designation first introduced in 2007 which forms the foundation for the new organizational system. This level represents about 30% of total production of AOC wines from Languedoc.

At the heart of the range, 60% of the region’s total AOC production, are the “Grand Vins” of Languedoc. These are the wines from the AOCs of Minervois, Corbières, Saint Chinian, Malepère, Faugères, Cabardès, all sweet Muscats, the sparkling wines of Limoux and Picpoul de Pinet.

Finally, at the summit, are the “Grand Crus” of Languedoc. Those approved as Grand Crus on include the AOCs of Minervois la Livinière, Corbières Boutenac, Saint Chinian Roquebrun, Saint Chinian Berlou Terrasses du Larzac, Grès de Montpellier, Pic Saint Loup, Pézenas, La Clape and the still white wines of Limoux. This level represents only 10% of the total number of wines.

The CIVL believes this will help both winegrowers and consumers to better supply and enjoy the wines of Languedoc’s AOCs.

More information on these new designations can be found here: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/languedoc-aocs-finalize-a-new-designation-structure-designed-to-aid-consumers-and-winegrowers-111791084.html

Information on the 2011 Ambassadors Program, sponsored by the CIVL, can be found here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110126005267/en/2011-CIVL-Ambassador-Wines-Tour-Country-Showcasing
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:24 pm

Thea Schlendorf wrote:Finally, at the summit, are the “Grand Crus” of Languedoc. Those approved as Grand Crus on include the AOCs of Minervois la Livinière, Corbières Boutenac, Saint Chinian Roquebrun, Saint Chinian Berlou Terrasses du Larzac, Grès de Montpellier, Pic Saint Loup, Pézenas, La Clape and the still white wines of Limoux. This level represents only 10% of the total number of wines.


So If I understand this correctly, entire AOCs have been deemed Grand Cru? Please correct me if I am wrong, but that seems rather broad.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:45 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:
Thea Schlendorf wrote:Finally, at the summit, are the “Grand Crus” of Languedoc. Those approved as Grand Crus on include the AOCs of Minervois la Livinière, Corbières Boutenac, Saint Chinian Roquebrun, Saint Chinian Berlou Terrasses du Larzac, Grès de Montpellier, Pic Saint Loup, Pézenas, La Clape and the still white wines of Limoux. This level represents only 10% of the total number of wines.


So If I understand this correctly, entire AOCs have been deemed Grand Cru? Please correct me if I am wrong, but that seems rather broad.


I agree.

Indeed I would go further and say that doing this is a good way of discrediting the term "grand cru", at least as far as Languedoc is concerned. When someone says that Chambertin or Château Pontet-Canet are "grands crus", I can go along with it. Already some GCs in St.Emilion represent a bit of a stretch but to designate as GC the whole of, say, Grès de Montpellier.......

And who decided that Faugères is inferior to La Clape?

AOC Languedoc includes Roussillon, where the wines should have a different character.

Finally what is planned for the appellations of Roussillon? Surely not to disappear into AOC Languedoc?

The INAO is surpassing itself in ineptitude. What a mess :evil: .
Last edited by Tim York on Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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