Wines of Languedoc-Roussillon
Languedoc-Roussillon is is the single biggest wine-making region in the world, producing approximately one third of all French wines each year. From budget Pays D'Oc to premium Corbieres AOC blends, a small number of unusual varietals and everything in between, we look at some great examples of the fine wine to look out for.
Languedoc-Roussillon is an area of South West France stretching from the Rhone Valley to the Spanish border along the Mediterranean coast. Previously named Languedoc, it now includes the Roussillon region on its southern border.
The key to its success is the Mediterranean coastal climate, with coastal breezes and humidity helping to balance the dry, arid and warm plains used for vine cultivation. There is also cultivation in the narrow valleys around the Pyrenees.
The main grapes used are Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvedre, but we have also discovered some unique varietals.
Les Argelieres Pinot Noir (13% £11.10) is round and juicy, showing aromas of spiced raspberries and strawberries, with subtle smoky and peppery hints. These summer fruits flow on to the elegant and well balanced palate enhanced by hints of vanilla, cherry and blackcurrant before a silky, long finish. Les Argelieres Cabernet Franc (13% £10.50) is ever-so enticing, displaying a delightful, softly spiced bouquet of blackcurrant and green pepper. The ripe, full flavoured palate is smooth, medium bodied and fruity showing lots of red berry fruit backed by subtle pepper.
Moving on to premium blends that are great examples of the expertise of the region, St Chinian-Roquebrun AOC Col D'Arribat (14% £12.80) balances Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan for deep, complex aromatic perfumed notes alongside crushed red berries and bramble fruit. Round, soft tannins create a well-structured style with good weight, with ripe blackberry flavours dominant alongside earthy spice and herb nuances.
The Faugeres appellation brings us Chateau Galzy Cuvee Aquarius Faugeres (13.5% £13.00) blending night-time harvested grapes carefully, part aged in new French oak for 6 months. A well developed and ranged bouquet of blackberry, black cherry, blackcurrant, cooked blueberry and damsons precedes the complex palate of dark plum and a mineral backbone, silky tannins and a pleasing finish.
Chateau de Cabriac Tradition Corbieres AOC (13.5% £10.80) also blends the same four grape types in differing amounts, using old vine Carignan for extra intensity. An exuberant nose of black fruit complements a full, powerful, fruity palate with notes of blackcurrant, blackberry and coffee.
Our Minervois AOC offering is Chateau Guery Gres Minervois AOC (14% £12.20) blending Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre grapes that are grown in sandstone for a powerful, intense, rich and full bodied wine. Pronounced blackberry and herbal notes arise on the nose and palate.
White wines from the region favour Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Picpoul, Grenache Blanc and Viognier grapes.
Les Argelieres Viognier (13% £10.50) typifies the potential of this grape, with a sublime bouquet of apricot and mango, balancing with subtle rose petals and almonds. The juicy palate brings apricot and peach flavours leading to a long, refreshing finish showing notes of herbs. The Les Argelieres Chardonnay (13.5% £11.10) is shimmering gold in appearance, with aromas of ripe apples, zesty grapefruit and dainty hints of vanilla and nuts with a buttery note. Careful oaking brings a dense, velvety palate with exuberant buttery, vanilla flavours before an ever so fresh, long finish.
One of the newest areas to be given wine appellation status is Picpoul de Pinet, known for its crisp, white wines with refreshing acidity. Domaine de Morin-Langaran Picpoul de Pinet (13.5% £11.00) is a superb organic version, full of juicy lemon fruit and mineral freshness alongside floral acacia and hawthorn blossom. Delicate and fresh with an excellent acid structure.
The Cremant de Limoux label shows that one doesn't need to venture to Champagne for high quality sparkling wine. Made using the Traditional Method in small villages around Limoux, it uses Chardonnay, Mauzac and Chenin Blanc with a minimum of 1 year on the lees for true complexity and flavour.
Berry Bros & Rudd Cremant de Limoux (12% £18.10) was created in collaboration with Francoise Antech, sixth generation of a renowned Limoux family. It blends Chardonnay 70%, Chenin Blanc 20% and Mauzac 10% for a lightly sparkling, refreshing Cremant showing white-floral perfume layered with apricot, honey and light, toasty brioche notes.