Today's Sponsors
 The California Wine Club's Customer Appreciation Week!
Take 10% off any order with The California Wine Club

 Terroirs of Burgundy with Robin Garr
Sample the glory of Burgundy in a tour designed for value-seeking wine lovers.

In This Issue
 Learning Languedoc Things are changing in France's largest but perhaps least known and little respected wine region. We try to clear things up in this month's Wine Focus.
 The California Wine Club's Customer Appreciation Week! Take 10% off any order with The California Wine Club
 Chateau La Roque 2001 "Cupa Numismae" Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup ($21.99)
I've been following this old favorite from Languedoc for more than a decade; this 2001 release is fully in character, but its price point is rising.
 Terroirs of Burgundy with Robin Garr Sample the glory of Burgundy in a tour designed for value-seeking wine lovers.
 This week on
New multimedia features include today's Internet radio TalkShoe on matching food and wine and my new video on reading the French wine label. Dennis Schaefer reports on Ken Volk's fine new wines from Santa Maria; our forum participants dig into the meaning and lore of some common wine terms, and we're taking a poll on how you store your wine.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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Learning Languedoc

Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest wine region in France in terms of both land area and the amount of wine it produces, but it remains one of the country's least well-known appellations and frankly one of its least respected. Why is that?

Over the centuries while places like Burgundy and Bordeaux were developing stellar reputations for world-class, sought-after wine, the Languedoc was known mostly for anonymous, forgettable stuff, the inexpensive beverage that the French call "vin ordinaire" ("ordinary wine"). It's a dismissive term, but that doesn't deter the locals from drinking a lot of the wine, often lining up with jugs at a dispensing station called a "vrac" that looks a lot like a gasoline pump.

But things are changing in the Languedoc, as they are across France and around the world of wine. While the region still produces plenty of vin ordinaire, it's also becoming a go-to place for value-seeking wine lovers who recognize that its stony hillsides and sun-washed Mediterranean slopes have potential to produce outstanding wines - largely robust reds based on Carignan, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache - to compare with its neighbors in Provence and even the Southern Rhone.

As I mentioned in passing in Friday's edition, we're featuring the traditional Coteaux du Languedoc region, and its sub-regions Pic Saint Loup and Montpeyroux - as this month's "Wine Focus" on our WineLovers Discussion Group forums.

Today, let's try to sort out the terminology of Languedoc as concisely as we can. Many wine lovers find the minutiae of appellations and label language unexciting, but if you're in the market for value, it's worth taking a few moments to learn your way around a Languedoc wine label.

Broadly, Languedoc (pronounced "Lahn-guh-doc") incorporates all of Southwestern France, along the Mediterranean from the mouth of the Rhone west and south to the Pyrenees and Spain. Its name, somewhat amusingly, comes from the word "oc," which the ancient Occitan people of the region used to say "yes." Other French, who found this amusing because they say "oui," named the region "Langue d'Oc," or, loosely, the place where people say "oc."

But here's where things get confusing, as the name "Languedoc" is also used to represent just the central part of that region (which roughly coincides with the department of Montpellier, Hérault, and is distinct from the broader "Languedoc-Roussillon") or even "Le Midi" ("the land of midday"), which rarely turns up on a wine label, but sometimes is used to describe Languedoc and sometimes Languedoc and Provence. Finally, the wine appellation Coteaux du Languedoc - which formerly referred to the sub-region of Languedoc that includes Pic Saint Loup, Montpeyroux, Faugères and St.-Chinian - has recently been expanded to cover the entire region, including Languedoc and Roussillon, and is simply called, well, Languedoc.

Now do you see why some people give up on this whole wine-appreciation thing and simply call for a glass of red ... or a beer?

But it really is useful to know these things, not least because if you learn a few specific regional names like the aforementioned Pic Saint Loup, Montpeyroux, Faugères and St.-Chinian, you'll have an instant shopping list that you can use to cherry-pick the Languedoc wine shelves and, perhaps, pick up some fine wine values.

To compare notes and post your own reports on Coteaux du Languedoc reds this month, point your browser to the Wine Focus section of the WineLovers Discussion Group,

Today's Sponsor

California Wine Club
The California Wine Club's Customer Appreciation Week!

Take 10% off any order with The California Wine Club.

Through the years The California Wine Club has experienced tremendous support from readers and its 30 Second Wine Advisor subscribers. To thank you, The California Wine Club will take an extra 10 percent off any purchases you make through Feb. 9.

Need to send a gift? Reorder a favorite wine or try a new club? Do it now and save 10 percent.

Simply call 1-800-777-4443 or visit Be sure to use PROMO CODE: Appreciate!

Offer ends Feb. 9, 2007. Sorry, discount can not be given on previously placed orders.

Chateau La Roque Chateau La Roque 2001 "Cupa Numismae" Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup ($21.99)

A classic Pic Saint Loup that I've been following since the 1990 vintage, this Syrah-based Languedoc red is a very dark reddish-purple with a clear garnet edge. A bit of "burnt-match" reductiveness at first soon blows off to unveil fragrant Syrah black pepper and earthy red-fruit aromas, mirrored on the palate in balanced fruit and earth flavors, well structured by a firm acidic core, with soft tannins behind the fruit. Black cherries and a whiff of leather hang on in the finish. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (Jan. 12, 2007)

FOOD MATCH: Char-grilled red meat or poultry would be a natural, but its firm but complex flavors went well with a more offbeat dish created on the fly, a "risotto pizzaiolo" flavored with tomato sauce, crumbled sausage and Pecorino Romano cheese.

VALUE: Having enjoyed this wine over a decade and happily paid under $10 for it in the '90s, it hurts my feelings to see it selling for a little over $20. Still, it's a fine wine and benchmark Pic Saint Loup.

WHEN TO DRINK: Cupa Numismae ages very well indeed - I enjoyed one of my remaining 1990s within the past year, and while showing some oxidative character after 15 years in "passive" cellaring, it was still surprisingly fruity and approachable.

Here's a fine article about Chateau La Roque on Jamie Goode's excellent UK-based wine Website, Wine Anorak:

Look up vendors and compare prices for Chateau La Roque Cupa Numismae on

Somewhat surprisingly, Wine-Searcher finds relatively few vendors. For additional information about Kermit Lynch's distributors in the U.S., check the importer's Website for downloadable lists.

Terroirs of Burgundy with Robin Garr

Hotel DieuWhat wine lover hasn't dreamed of touring Burgundy, meeting its wine makers and learning about its wines?

Now, with the respected wine-touring company French Wine Explorers, we've crafted a special, once-in-a-lifetime Terroirs of Burgundy tour aimed at thrifty, value-seeking wine lovers.

If you've long dreamed of learning Burgundy and its wines with an expert at hand but thought you couldn't possibly afford it, I invite you to consider The Terroirs of Burgundy. I'll be personally leading the July 2-7, 2007 tour, and I promise maximum "bang for the buck."

Interested? Don't delay, as the tour is strictly limited to 16 wine lovers. You can review the itinerary and details at

For more information or to make reservations, send E-mail to or call +1-877-261-1500 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada). And if you would like to discuss this tour with me personally, feel free to write me at

To read and comment on today's column in our non-commercial WineLovers Discussion Group, click:

Today's article is cross-posted in our Netscape WineLovers Community, where we also welcome comments and questions.

To contact me by E-mail, write I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

This week on

Today's Live "TalkShoe": Matching food and wine
TalkShoe!White with fish, red with meat? Not necessarily! Our interactive Internet radio TalkShoe today featured Robin Garr and our wine experts talking about matching food and wine. You can listen to it at any time from the archives; and mark your calendar to catch next week's TalkShoe live on Monday, Feb. 12, at 1 p.m. US EST (10 a.m. PST, 18:00 in the UK, 19:00 in Western Europe). See our TalkShoe page for instructions, information and hotlinks.

Our Wine Videos: Reading the French wine label
We're still learning our way around the wild new world of online video, and you're invited to watch while we do it. In this new "Video Frequently Asked Question," I offer a few quick tips on gleaning the basics from a French wine label. You'll find it near the top of our Wine Video Watch page,

Schaefer on Wine: Ken Volk walks among us
... and that's a good thing! Anyone who's followed the Central Coast wine scene knows Ken Volk, columnist Dennis Schaefer says. Volk, who founded Wild Horse Winery in 1981, has gone back to the basics, launching his new Kenneth Volk Vineyards in Santa Maria. Schaefer says he's excited about Volk's prospects, and backs it up with an overview and tasting reports on 10 excellent wines.

WineLovers Discussion Group: Cuvee, Meritage ... and claret
One of the most extended and, well, "geeky" discussions on our WineLovers Discussion Group in recent weeks, this extended online conversation looks into the meaning and the tangled etymology of a few interesting wine terms. Read the messages, and please feel free to join in. Here's a link to the beginning of the discussion "thread":

Netscape WineLovers Community Poll: How do you keep your wine?
This week's Netscape/CompuServe WineLovers Community poll is a simple one, aiming to sketch a picture of the ways we store our wine. Simple wine rack? Dark closet? Passive cellar? Or the whole works with a free-standing cooler or built-in wine cellar? Fill in the ballot, then see how your response compares with wine lovers around the world.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Wine and deli? (Feb. 2, 2006)

 Readers talk back: Breathing (Jan. 31, 2006)

 When breathing matters (Jan. 29, 2006)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Eggplant pasta sauce (Feb. 1, 2006)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:


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Monday, Feb. 5, 2007
Copyright 2007 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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