I just returned (literally) from a great tasting in San Francisco of The 2011 Ambassador's Tour of the AOC Languedoc, Sud de France (South of France). The tasting was hosted by the Conseil Interprofessionel des Vins du Languedoc (CIVL) which represents the 29 AOC Appellations of Languedoc.
I just had to put something up quickly as I was so impressed by the quality of the wines overall and more than that, the value that most of the wines brought. The varietals are very similar to those of the Rhone and include Grenache, Mouvedre, Syrah, Carignane as well as others. On the white side, Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, Marsanne, Picpoul, Rolle (Vermentino) and Macabeu (Macabeao/Viura) as well as several others.
AOC Languedoc-Rousillon is the largest wine producing region in France, planted to 95,000 acres, producing nearly 400 million gallons and the 29 appellations produce about 10% of France's total wine production.
Thea Dwelle of Luscious Lushes and I made a couple of rounds and I'm happy to present some of my top choices for you to try.
First the Whites:
Another of my go-to whites is Chenin Blanc. While not as popular as other varietals, or as it used to be in the late 70s/80s, I dig French Chenin. It rocks!
The Château Reives Blanques Dédicace Blanc, 2008 is a fine example of Chenin. It's from the AOC Limous and brings more great minerals but with more acid than the Picpoul. Try this with chicken salad, grilled pork loin with apple chutney or even fish & chips! Good stuff!
On the red side, Château La Dournie, Classic Red 2009 from the Saint Chinian appellation brings together 60% Syrah with 25% Grenache and 15% Carignane. For a bistro style wine, it's got a significant amount of restrained fruit and is terroir driven with great mushroom and earthy notes. Would be awesome with cassoulet!
Finally, Château de Lancyre, Coste d'Aleyrac Rouge, 2008 is another Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault blend. It's another wonderful food centric young selection. From the Pic Saint Loup appellation, this GrandCru de Languedoc exemplifies what I want when having dinner al fresco with friends on a pleasant spring evening and grilled light meats and vegetables. With plenty of fresh, rich red cranberry and plum fruit on the front and lots of acid and mineral on the mid-palate, the back finishes wide and slowly with a sexy, sily mouthfeel. It's one of the best values I found today.
What a great Ambassadours Tour for Languedoc in 2011. Super quality at super value and mostly keeping to their roots, but perhaps, with a bit of room for an American palate.
Get out and enjoy some Languedoc ....ask your local wine monger for his or her favorites and perhaps one of these will be at the top of the value list.