Of all the world’s wine producing regions, one that has seen some of the most excitement and innovation in recent years is Languedoc-Rousillon in the south of France. The single largest wine-producing region in the world, it stretches along the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to Provence. Vineyards were planted in the area by Greek settlers as far back as the fifth century BC. Known for high-quality wines for most of its history, in the late 19th century the region became a source for cheap, mass-produced wines. However, Languedoc-Rousillon has recently seen a return to the greatness it formerly enjoyed.
The grapes featured in the wines of this region are much the same as those in another famous region of southern France, the Cotes du Rhone. Grenache, carignan, syrah, and mourvedre are the primary reds, while viognier, chardonnay, roussane, marsanne, and picpoul are some of the most common whites. Chenin blanc and mauzac are also used (along with chardonnay) in the sparkling wines. In face the production of sparkling wines here predates that of its famous cousin Champagne.
Here are a few wines to look for: the 2011 Abbaye Sylva Plana ($25.99) from Faugeres features a medium body with flavors of sweet berries, pepper, and bay leaf. From the Cotes du Rousillon, the 2009 Les Dentelles by Thunevin-Calvet ($39.99) has notes of licorice, plum, chocolate, and violets. Another great value from the Cotes du Rousillon is the 2011 George by Domaine Puig-Parahy ($19.99) with flavors of black tea, blueberry, and a pronounced mineral character. Another favorite is the 2011 L’Equilibre from Villa Symposia ($19.99). This wine has a great savory quality with sage, juniper, dark cherry, and black raspberry.
And, now is the perfect time to stock up on your favorite French wines and try some new ones as well. For the month of October, all French wines are 20% off when you mix or match six or more bottles. See you soon!