February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:13 pm

Tim York wrote:The INAO is surpassing itself in ineptitude. What a mess :evil: .


Of course the INAO always has the VDP to look down on. :twisted:
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:37 pm

Am recovering from a heavy cold so have not tasted anything this past weekend. Great to see Jon from Domaine Treloar has posted here, great reputation in Europe. Some of his wines are here in W Canada, tonite will be opening his One Block! Wearing his T-shirt of course.

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

Postby Rosemary George » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:46 pm

I couldn't agree more with the comment about the INAO surpassing itself with ineptitude, except I think the real culprit is the Comite Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc. They think they are simplifying things for the consumer, but this is certainly questionable.

Coteaux du |languedoc will disappear in April 2012 and be replaced by Languedoc, which will include Roussillon, at a bottom level. This is pretty crazy, considering that the two regions, although they get lumped together, have quite a different history and winemaking tradition.

And wny should Faugeres be a grand vin, when it was an AC in its own right before Coteaux du Languedoc, while Terrasses du Larzac, a relative newcomer is a grand cru???? And is it immediately apparent that grand cru is better than grand vin? I think not. And what about areas like Montpeyoux and St. Saturnin which don't seem to feature in either list.

I think the choice of wine from the Languedoc really depends upon producer, irrespective of appellation. Here are a few of my current favourites, and with
obvious glaring omissions - Ollier-Taillefer, Jean-Michel Alquier, Gravillas, Cazaban, St. Jean de Bebian, Felines-Jourdan,

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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:49 pm

Thanks Rosemary (for those who don't know who she is, Rosemary George is a Master of Wine!).

It would seem that making things simpler for the consumer is code for shooting one's self in the foot.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:54 pm

Thanks from me too! Rosemary has achieved much in promoting the Languedoc region and has many fans, especially in Europe. Her books are gems, still have them in my bookcase.

http://www.thewinedoctor.com/otherresou ... orge.shtml
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:56 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Thanks Rosemary (for those who don't know who she is, Rosemary George is a Master of Wine!).

Welcome to Rosemary! I'd be delighted to have her add "Rosemary George MW" as a signature line, if she would care to do so ... although to some extent her reputation precedes her. :)
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:32 pm

Fitou Réserve Mont Tauch L'Enclos des Oliviers - Mont Tauch - Alc.13% - (€4,50), made from Carigan, Grenache and Syrah; no vintage quoted. This is the first of my budget random purchases from the regions. Subject to correction, Fitou was the first Languedoc sub-region to have its own appellation and Mont Tauch is a large co-operative responsible for about two-thirds of Fitou's output as well as a lot of Corbières.

This is an agreeably supple red with medium body, decent red fruit with a dash of prunes and just a hint of rubber; not a lot of structure or personality. My random Portuguese samples between €4 and 7 (last month's WF) were more interesting than this; 14/20.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:53 am

Tim, any chance you might be able to track down some wines from Negly? There used to be a wonderful white here but now zippo! The reds have a very good reputation I hear.
Also how about Grès de Montpelier? Lots of chat on the UK board about this area. I do have some Assas!
I did find this info on a website.....>

http://www.coteaux-languedoc.com/englis ... _fiche.asp
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:46 am

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Tim, any chance you might be able to track down some wines from Negly? There used to be a wonderful white here but now zippo! The reds have a very good reputation I hear.
Also how about Grès de Montpelier? Lots of chat on the UK board about this area. I do have some Assas!
I did find this info on a website.....>

http://www.coteaux-languedoc.com/englis ... _fiche.asp


Thanks for that link, Bob. Looking at the list of communes covered it just shows how insane it is to classify the whole Grès de Montpellier as "Grand Cru". Presuming that one likes the massive style of the Peyre-Rose estate, it might make some sense to classify those restricted terroirs as "grand cru" as well as closely neighbouring ones with the same characteristics and potential, but the whole sub-region....???

My pal in Liège offers Négly La Côte and La Falaise but no white; the former less than < €10. I'll search to see if there is a supplier in nearer Brussels.

If a suitably rich dish is found, I may open one of my Peyre-Rose 95 or 98 this month. Last time I opened a 95, some wine pals panned it for spoofulation and over-oaking; in fact it is tank aged and sees no wood at all :roll: .
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Jon Hesford » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:30 am

Rosemary George has done more to promote the wines of the LR than the CIVL in many respects. They really should listen to her and other wine writers.

This is just a sign of the two worlds that I mentioned. On the one hand you have the best, most famous and most desirable producers happy to make their wine under whatever regime they feel suits them, be it AOC, IGP (previously trading as Vin de Pays) or Vin de France. In the other world you have an organisation determined to put a framework together that resembles the far more desirable regions of Burgundy, Loire, Rhone and Bordeaux. The problem is that these regions were really classified, in desirability even if not on paper, a long time ago based on their much longer history of striving to make great wine.

In my view, the LR is far more similar and has far more to learn from the New World than it has from Burgundy. New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest make brilliant Pinot Noirs to rival Burgundy but they have not found the need to ringfence each village, adopt irrelevant rules and begin an almost arbitrary system of ranking. The public does not need a government department to tell them which wines are best. Critics, competitions (perhaps) and consumer reviews like Cellartracker and, most importantly, their own palate will tell them that. If you pick up any book on the wines of the LR, it will be out of date. In just a 10 year period the ranking of producers has changed dramatically along with the list of areas they farm. There seems little point laying down a set of Appellations when the winemaking is still evolving.

Perhaps this may explain their actions a bit better. The CIVL is funded by a form of tax on each litre of wine sold. Each producer pays the same rate. Therefore a cooperative making 50000 hl contributes far more than a highly rated independent making 200hl. Their efforts are therefore focused on attributing prestige to areas. The tiering comes about because the major landholders of those areas have political sway within the organisations. If you look at the Roussillon Villages for example, at least two of them, Caramany and Lesquerde, are almost completely under the control of the cooperatives. I think there are 3 independents who between them account for 1% of the wine produced.

I'm sorry if I appear at odds with the CIVL (or CIVR). I think they work hard promoting the region's wines and the CIVR have helped me numerous times but they need to stick to promotion instead of partitioning and ranking producers. Just let things go the natural way and promote the diversity ot the region. Our advantage over Burgundy and many other highly-aclaimed regions is that you can buy an affordable Languedoc-Roussillon wine and it will not be horrible. This is a huge plus-point. It allows the wine enthusiast to start their journey without the pitfalls common of other French regions.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tim York » Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:05 am

Jon Hesford wrote:
This is just a sign of the two worlds that I mentioned. On the one hand you have the best, most famous and most desirable producers happy to make their wine under whatever regime they feel suits them, be it AOC, IGP (previously trading as Vin de Pays) or Vin de France. In the other world you have an organisation determined to put a framework together that resembles the far more desirable regions of Burgundy, Loire, Rhone and Bordeaux. The problem is that these regions were really classified, in desirability even if not on paper, a long time ago based on their much longer history of striving to make great wine.

In my view, the LR is far more similar and has far more to learn from the New World than it has from Burgundy. New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest make brilliant Pinot Noirs to rival Burgundy but they have not found the need to ringfence each village, adopt irrelevant rules and begin an almost arbitrary system of ranking. The public does not need a government department to tell them which wines are best. Critics, competitions (perhaps) and consumer reviews like Cellartracker and, most importantly, their own palate will tell them that. If you pick up any book on the wines of the LR, it will be out of date. In just a 10 year period the ranking of producers has changed dramatically along with the list of areas they farm. There seems little point laying down a set of Appellations when the winemaking is still evolving.



These are excellent points. Regrettably the New World sort of approach is likely to be condemned as "libéralisme Anglo-Saxon" by most people in France.

I would buy a good recent book about LR (Rosemary, are you planning a new edition of yours?) but thereafter rely on bloggers, annual guides and tastings to stay as up to date as possible.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Rosemary George » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:36 am

Tim -
In reply to your question: sadly no. Such is the state of publishing that it is impossible to get a commission for anything other than an established guide or yet another introduction to wine. Anything requiring research needs some financial support from the region concerned. And Faber who published The Wines of the south of France sold the series to Mitchell Beazley who relaunched and then lost interest....

Jon – I have been enjoying your observations. One of the dilemmas of the Languedoc is its two tier viticulture. While we get excited about the latest new producer, we tend to forget about the mass of pretty unsaleable bulk wine that is churned out year after year. There are good coops that work well for the area, but there are also some pretty dire ones – our local village coop plumbed a new ‘quality’ depth – not fit for vinegar mother ...... And their political clout is questionable – why do we know La Livinière or Roquebrun; and why does Faugères not have a cru?

But whatever the problems, there is no doubt that the Languedoc offers some fabulous drinking at affordable prices, and it is the most exciting area, with so many new developments, new producers – new grape varieties coming to the fore. If I were condemned to drink the wines of one region alone, it would be the Languedoc, in which I do include Roussillon, but not Provence. But I would make an exception for Trévallon!

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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:46 am

Well, this all great stuff, and a wonderful rant from Jon too!!! I have to agree with Tim when he says we will need to stick with bloggers, forums and local LR websites to keep up with all the news. RDVDF has some great articles but naturally in French. The Decanter?..will have to go through some back copies but not much there I think.
Hope everyone is enjoying this great discussion. This month is going to be too short eh.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby GrahamTigg » Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:04 am

Interesting discussion on classification and marketing and thanks to Bob for drawing this to my attention. This has prompted me to re-read my blog notes on this from last summer.

One of the challenges the region faces in France is simply Bordeaux and Burgundy. Most French consumers perceive these to be best and will proudly buy the stuff from whatever source at a premium price i.e. they get poor value for money. May UK consumers are of the same ilk. The creation of Languedoc Grand Cru/Vin is trying to play the same game and seems like a mistake - the mindset shift needs a more radical approach. These crus/vins are mainly large often sprawling areas and not individual (historically proven) vineyards as others have said.

As Jon says the region is about the quality and diversity offered by the majority of the 1000+ independent grower producers. Economics dictate the focus for the “authorities” is on the mass produced wines. Here I think they would be better off continuing to beef up the Sud de France branding rather than Grand this and that.

One illustration that confusion is rife is that I perceive, unlike Rosemary from her post?, Montpeyoux and St. Saturnin to be at the very heart of the Terrasses du Larzac (and not just geologically).

To build on Jon’s point about the size of the area, being there doesn’t make it any easier to buy the wines. While most towns sport a cavist or two they stock few wines from outside the local appellation. In the Herault Valley there is little choice from Pic St Loup or Saint Chinion, let alone Roussillon. This is not necessarily bad, it just reflects the scale of things.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Rosemary George » Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:45 am

Montpeyroux and St. Saturnin could certainly be included in the Terrasses du Larzac, but they don't want to be - they don't join in with the Terrasses du Larzac's promotional work and they consider that they have been around much longer - recongised as VDQS sometime in the 1950s ......
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:01 pm

By the way, for those that subscribe to The Wine Advocate, David Schildknecht does write an occasional but very in-depth report on the wines of Southern France. His last one was in June 2009, and I think there is supposed to be a new on this year.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:34 am

Just for you Tim...Mont Tauch!!!

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

Postby GrahamTigg » Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:00 am

As well as Rosemary's blog I'd also recommend Juliet Bruce Jones's. She is also an MW and based in the Minervois for most of the time.

http://languedocwinetales.blogspot.com

For another winemakers perspective then look at Ryan O'Connell's http://love-that-languedoc.com. Some of the video episodes are fun and excellent.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Jon Hesford » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:13 am

Another interesting issue is the use of oak-ageing for LR red wines. As a relatively new technique we can find lots of different examples of the use and abuse of oak.

Traditionally, many of the wines here were made and stored in concrete tanks or massive oak vats that would impart little oak flavour. To make red wines that have mellow tannins without long oak ageing, you have to have very ripe tannins and gentle maceration. It is perhaps a misconception that barrels add or increase tannin. They actually help soften wines by converting the short-chain phenolic compounds extracted from the skins into long-chain tannins. At the same time they add richness and spiciness.

In the 1990s quite a lot of better funded wineries sought to emulate the wines of other regions by introducing oak barrels. This was follwed pretty quickly by the use of oak chips to emulate the popular New World brands. Some were successful and some were less so. Nowadays we have quite a lot of high-end producers making elegant wines with no oak, some making fine barrel-aged wines and quite a lot winning gold medals with oak-chipped wines. There is no right or wrong in the use of oak but there are lots of wines that use it inappropriately or should use it but don't.

It is very important to understand the style of wine you are trying to make. In order to benefit from barrel ageing, the base wine needs to have concentration, structure, acidity and not too much alcohol. Last night I went to a tasting where the same wine had been aged in concrete (or steel), with oak chips and with oak staves. In one case the base wine was lovely, had soft, rounded tannins and a very attractive bramble fruit. The versions that had used chips and staves had very obvious coconut, cocoa and spice characters but the wine hasd lost its fruit and quite a lot of its complexity and elegance. I thought these were examples of a winemaker who knew how to make good unoaked reds but had been convinced to try and make them oaky, probably by some marketing consultant.

On the other hand we tried a Gigondas whose mouthfeel, complexity and length had all been improved by the use of staves.

I personally feel that I can spot oak chipped wines. I also think that chips are responsible for increasing my chance of a hangover. However, I have to admit that the careful use of staves did improve the wine in the above trial. What it does to the wine in the long-term I can't say but as only about 1% of the wines of the region are cellared for more than a year or two, who cares.

I'd be interested in the American perspective. The general view here is that wines need to be oaked for the American market. On another forum I read that Californian winemakers would never consider making a red without oak. The comment was "We have a name for unoaked red - it is Topping wine" (i.e. used to fill barrels).
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:51 am

Jon,

While I believe that oak chips tend to impart an agressive, almost bitter oak flavor to wine, I am curious as to your comments regarding them causing hangovers. Do you believe that the chips impart a different set of checmical components, one or more of which might lead to your hangovers?

I've always attributed hangovers to insufficient hydration.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:56 am

David M. Bueker wrote:I've always attributed hangovers to insufficient hydration.

I'm eager to hear Jon's response, too. Wild guess: He's looking at histamines, perhaps more available for extraction from chips than from staves.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:51 am

GrahamTigg wrote:As well as Rosemary's blog I'd also recommend Juliet Bruce Jones's. She is also an MW and based in the Minervois for most of the time.

http://languedocwinetales.blogspot.com

For another winemakers perspective then look at Ryan O'Connell's http://love-that-languedoc.com. Some of the video episodes are fun and excellent.


Thanks for these links Graham. I do check in on Juliet`s website but reports seem sparse at times?

Ryan is a hoot and so knowledgeable! I emailed him when I got in touch with you but no reply...as yet! Are you in contact with him at all?
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby GrahamTigg » Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:53 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Thanks for these links Graham. I do check in on Juliet`s website but reports seem sparse at times?

Ryan is a hoot and so knowledgeable! I emailed him when I got in touch with you but no reply...as yet! Are you in contact with him at all?


Juliet needs encouragement but she's just posted a couple of items.

Just email Ryan again - he absolutely won't mind. He's also on Facebook if you're into that. That said he's also been quiet on-line lately.
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Re: February Wine Focus: France - The Southern Tier

Postby Tom N. » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:15 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:I've always attributed hangovers to insufficient hydration.

I'm eager to hear Jon's response, too. Wild guess: He's looking at histamines, perhaps more available for extraction from chips than from staves.

Hi Robin,

If he claims that oak imparts significant quantities of histamines, then I sure would like to see his source. Pollen (from oak and other plants) have histamines but I am not aware of histamines in the wood. Tannins and phenolic acids, yes, but histamines? I am a tree biochemist and it would be new knowledge for me.

I agree with David, in that most hangovers are likely caused by brain dehydration.
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