Thursday, August 24, 2017

Terrific Value Wines from Languedoc-Roussillon

A 100-year-old vineyard in Roussillon France, which I visited in 2014.
I’ve been a big fan of wines from the Languedoc and Roussillon regions of France since I was legally able to purchase alcohol. The wines I found were inexpensive, delicious, and never boring. Spicy, earthy, floral, savory, these wines always offered something a little different.

And things have only improved in recent years. A few years ago, I spent a week traveling through the Languedoc-Roussillon regions of France, which stretch from Montpellier along the Mediterranean to the Spanish border. I explored rocky vineyards of old, gnarly vines, and small producers focused on making the best wine possible from these ancient wine-growing regions. And I fell in love with the wines, the food, the culture, and the people.

Languedoc and Roussillon are actually two separate regions, and each is packed with multiple and diverse appellations. These regions are blessed with very old vines, although many vineyards were abandoned or pulled up as a glut of cheap wine floundered in the market. But the Languedoc-Roussillon regions have reinvented themselves again and again, and these days the high quality wines and moderate prices demand serious respect.

There are so many styles and wines to explore, and you won’t have to spend a lot of money to wrap your palate around what’s on offer. For example, the wines I tasted at Weygandt (which imports a range of exceptional Languedoc-Roussillon wines) all cost between $13 and $25.

My notes on the wines I tasted are below.

2015 Château Montfin Corbières Blanc - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Corbières
The creaminess on this wine is really nice, but lots of freshness. Apricots, lemons, minerals, chalk dust, white flowers – absolutely delicious and impressive for the price. Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Vermentino on clay-limestone soils. (87 points)

2014 Domaine des Soulanes Côtes Catalanes Kaya - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes
Rich aromatic nose of yellow fruits and flowers. Bold textural palate but fresh acidity and impressive balance. Layered, creamy apricot and orange fruit with mixes of ocean spray. A blend of Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Carignan Blanc and Carignan Gris from 65-year-old vines and aged on the lees in half stainless steel have old oak. I’m in love with this wine. (90 points)

2014 L'Oustal Blanc (Isabel et Claude Fonquerle) K - France, Vin de France
Lovely brightness to the aromatic fruit, along with violets and raspberries and brambly spice. Structured well with dusty tannins but fresh acidity keeps it balanced, bright raspberry and black cherry fruit laced with lavender, pepper, leather. Dusty, earthy, complex, delicious, old school Languedoc red. 100% Carignan from Minervois and St. Chinian. Crazy value. (89 points)

2012 Domaine Le Clos du Serres Les Terrasses du Larzac Le Bouis - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Coteaux du Languedoc Les Terrasses du Larzac
So much pepper and leather on the nose with lots of gushing black cherries. Tangy, juicy, fresh but also structured and grippy. Pepper and beef jerky mix so well with the black cherry and plum fruit, and I get notes of lavender, violets, charcoal and roasted herbs. 100% Syrah from shist/slate soils, fermented and aged in concrete. Holding up so nicely with more time ahead. (90 points)

2010 Domaine Canet-Valette Saint-Chinian Ivresses - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Saint-Chinian
Roses, raspberries, black cherries, leather and roasted herbs on the nose. Bold and chewy on the palate but fresh acidity balanced it all out. The red currant and black cherry fruit is tossed with leather, pepper, sage, dusty earth. Lots going on here, this is very pretty but still has time ahead. Grenache with 5% Mourvedre and 5% Syrah. (90 points)

2014 Domaine des Soulanes Côtes du Roussillon Villages Sarrat Del Mas - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages
Leathery saddle nose with plums, black cherries, anise and rose potpourri. Silky texture but serious tannic structure, moderating acidity, this wine pumps with plum and black cherry fruit, mixes with spiced tea and roasted herb notes. Delicious and elegant now but I’d love to taste this in 3-5 years. 50% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 25% Syrah, aged 12 months on old oak. (90 points)

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