Series by VineSleuth Contributing Writer, Steve Gross
This month, we find ourselves in the South of France, home to the azure waters of the Mediterranean, the Riviera, Provence, Nice, and Marseilles.
Many American tourists travel to this part of France, but there is comparably less talk about the wines than those of Burgundy or Bordeaux. There is, however, one section of Southern France (other than the Rhone Valley I’ve already covered) that has produced wine for hundreds of years, but is little-known by average wine consumers: Languedoc-Roussillon.
What Should I Know About Languedoc-Roussilon?
Consumer awareness of the Languedoc is quickly changing, however, as more and more affordable and tasty wines are reaching interested buyers. Some wine producers are using English-language labels, even puns, to offset the daunting language on traditional French labels. In the Southern France section of a wine shop, you’ll see names like Long Duck (get it?) and Tortoise Creek, a real difference when compared to the imposing names of wines from other French regions, like Chateauneuf du Pape.
Though it may be a little surprising given the warm temperatures at this latitude, wines made from many of the wine grapes used in the rest of France can be found in the South, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay.
One new wine for me was Picpoul de Pinet. Picpoul is the grape, and Coteaux du Languedoc, Picpoul de Pinet is the appellation (wine-growing region). This is a refreshing white wine that pairs well with the variety of seafood available in Southern France. It’s not as steely as a Chablis, and its tropical and fleshy fruit elements make for a clean, easy-drinking, enjoyable wine.
In my next post, I’ll cover the wines from southern France that I tasted this month. There is quite a variety, and the wines tend to be very affordable (only one wine I tasted this month was above $20). I like this combination of low prices and grape variety, because it makes it easy to try a lot of different bottle. There’s treasure there if you make the effort to do a bit of hunting.