Explore the Languedoc Roussillon region
- Credit: Archant
When looking at lists of French wines or the display on the shelves in wine shops or supermarkets I’m always reminded of the diversity of wines available from one region of southern France – the Languedoc Roussillon.
This region stretches from the Rhone Valley to the Spanish border in the South of France and is one of the largest wine producing regions of the world. The region has 740,300 acres of vineyards, three times the combined area of the vineyards in Bordeaux and the region has been an important winemaking centre for several centuries.
Wines are produced in many categories including Vin de France, Indication Geographique Protegee (IGP) and the higher quality Appellation d’Origine Protegee (AOP) regions. The latter includes appellations such as Fitou, Minervois, Corbieres and St Chinian, which have been well-known to wine consumers for years. Also, increasingly available are the wines of Cabardes, an appellation since 1999 and Picpoul de Pinet, one of the smallest in France.
The backbone of most of the red wines are the grape varieties of Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre producing robust full-flavoured wines.
Although in the years of the EU Wine Lake quantity was the main goal in this region ensuring mediocre wines were produced; subsequent subsidies to grub up vines and replant in the better wine producing areas is turning the focus of some producers to quality.
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One such company is Calmel & Joseph who work with many growers seeking out those whose fruit is of high quality. Their work has gained them recognition as they were recently awarded the accolade of Negociant of the Year in France.
Typical of the Languedoc Roussillon, their varietal wines - our easy-drinking wines - come exclusively from private wineries to ensure natural vinification and varietal character especially from little-known grapes such as Marselan as well as the better known Grenache, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
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Their wines have a harmonious balance of fruit and freshness that will enable the wine to develop in an exciting way. Their top quality appellation wines come from diverse areas between the Cévennes and the Camargue, These wines include wines from areas such as Faugeres, Minervois etc.
Inland, the gentle rolling hills of Limoux are home to vines producing the very enjoyable sparkling wines such as Blanquette de Limoux and Cremant de Limoux using the Blanquette grape for the former and Chardonnay amongst others for the latter.
This enclave with the Limoux Appellation offers delicious still wines too such as carefully oaked Chardonnays with pure fruit flavours laced with vanillary creamy oaky notes and robust flavoursome reds with layers of flavour from Shiraz and Grenache blends such as those from Ch St Roche.
Another development is the increasing popularity of Picpoul de Pinet from Coteaux du Languedoc.
Produced by small businesses such as Cave de l’Ormarine which is an award-winning co-operative producing wines from the tiny Pinet appellation in the Hérault.
Relatively recently incorporated in 1992, its history dates back to 1922. The owner has made significant investment in the winery and prides itself on the high standard and traceability of its grapes.
Duc de Morny Picpoul de Pinet from Coteaux du Languedoc Cave de l’Ormarine is nicknamed ‘la bomba’ for its incredibly fruity concentrated character it has a floral enticing nose with a crisp fruity long-lasting taste.
Experiment with Languedoc-Roussillon wines and I’m sure you’ll find some new favourites to enjoy…