After spending a week in Montpellier in the summer I have developed a real love for the wines from this region and when I heard that Decanter where having a Languedoc-Roussillon tasting as part of their Fine Wine Encounter I couldn’t wait to go.
The Languedoc-Roussillon wine region is rugged, hot and dusty but also has great big swathes of vines that form an undulating green carpet over the area. Due to the size of the region there are many different soils available to grow vines on, from limestone and shale to sandstone, calcareous or gravel. The Languedoc part covers the areas of Aude, Hérault, and Gard, the cities of Montpellier and Nîmes, it is fairly flat and heads straight down to the Mediterranean. The Roussillon is more mountainous and covers the area towards the Pyrenees and down again to the Mediterranean, it includes Rivesaltes, Banyuls and the city of Perpignan. Roussillon is especially famous for its vins doux naturels.
The region is still quite unsophisticated in its approach to winemaking although investment is being attracted to the area and quality is being improved. The region produces wine on a huge scale (particularly the Languedoc) and it is often this quantity that overshadows the quality wines that the region produces. Bush vines are still common in the area, but with the increase of international varieties there are also wire training methods in use. The climate is most definitely Mediterranean – it was scorching when we were there in July and we were very appreciative of our hotels roof-top pool – although it can get a bit blustery due to wind coming down off the hills.
At this years annual Decanter Fine Wine Encounter they held their first ever Languedoc tasting in the Discovery Theatre. It was hosted by Isabelle Pangault from Vignobles Jeanjean, Emmanueal Cazes and Rosemary George MW. Our hosts were all very enthusiastic and passionate about the area; talking about the improvements to the quality of the wines and the investment that has been made to ensure the wines can only get better. They also spoke of the energy of the new generation of winemakers that have studied abroad and are now coming back to the region full of exciting new ideas and plans to create the very best wines.
- Domaine de Fenouillet Les Hautes Combes White 2011, Faugères, Vignobles Jeanjean (50% Roussanne, 50% Marsanne)
- Domaine de Fenouillet Combe Rouge Red 2010, Faugères, Vignobles Jeanjean (75% Syrah, 25% Grenache)
- Mas de Lunès Réserve Red 2010, Coteaux du Languedoc, Vignobles Jeanjean (90% Syrah, 10% Grenache) – my favourite – deep ruby, full of spice, pepper and black fruit, rich, juicy with soft tannins and well integrated alcohol.
- Ego Red 2010, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Cazes (40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre)
- Notre Dame des Anges Red 2011, Collioure, Cazes (40% Grenache, 30% Carignan, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre)
- Cuvée Aimé Cases 1978, Rivesaltes, Cazes (80% White Grenache, 20% Black Grenache) – a real treat, full of oranges, dried fruits, nutmeg and figs. It was smooth and not cloying, subtle and not overpowering.
This really is a stunning region that is making some really fantastic wines. If you can, get down there and experience it in person, if not, why don’t you open a bottle from Faugères or Rivesaltes this weekend and experience a little bit of the magic.