Every year Hollywood’s elite head to Southern France for the Cannes Film Festival. But along the way, many celebrities take a side trip France’s largest wine growing region for provincial dining and wines of Languedoc.
Languedoc is not only France’s largest wine growing region, but it’s also one of the world’s largest wine regions; rivaling the size of Sonoma, Paso Robles and Napa combined.
For years, this wine region was focused more on quantity rather than quality, but in recent years more people have come to the Languedoc with aspirations of producing quality wines at affordable prices. What hasn’t changed is Languedoc’s proximity to both the foothills of the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea coastline; an area ripe with natural beauty and ideal growing conditions for grapes.
Grape varietals you know like Syrah, Mourvèdre, Muscat, Viognier and Grenache grow well in Languedoc as do lesser known varietals you might not know such as Piquepoul (pronounced ‘peek-pool), Mauzac (‘mo-zack’), Bourboulenc (‘Bor-boo-lenk’), Cinsault (‘sin-so’) and Carignan.
The region offers a wide selection of styles from red, rosé and white wines to sparkling and sweet all for around $10-$20 retail in the U.S.
For wine lovers just getting into the wines from Langeudoc, affordability offers an opportunity to explore and taste many different wines to find a favorite. Some gems I found during the last #LanguedocDay online wine tasting are good values:
2010 Hugues Beaulieu AOC Picpoul de Pinet – $11
Wine lovers of all experience levels can find something to like about this easy white wine. Whether sipping by itself on a warm day or pairing with food, this Picpoul offers up a pleasant surprise gift basket of fresh flavors of key lime zest, honeydew melon and lemon peel woven together with a thread of wet river rock. Acid hounds will be pleased to find plenty of structure with a little quirkiness (X-Factor), which is what you’d hope for in a French white wine.
2009 Chateau de Paraza AOC Minervois – $10
It’s Tuesday night and you want to have a glass of red wine, but you don’t want to open a big dog wine. You want something good, but an “every day” wine. Languedoc AOC wines can offer the perfect match for your Tuesday night meal and Chateau de Paraza Minervois is a red wine blend with a little bit of everything for everybody.
Get your nose in the glass and enjoy the fresh baked blackberry cobbler notes that smell like Grandma just pulled it out of the oven. The thing I like about the wine is the interesting hint of turned earth and acidity that frames the wine like 2×4’s on a house.
2008 Chateau Pech Latt AOC Corbières – $10
You may notice a trend here. Each of these suggested wines retail for about ten bucks on the shelf. That’s the beauty of Languedoc! Great values can be had from all over the region.
Here Chateau Pech Latt assembles Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan into a concentrated rich, dark blend offering up black fruits, bay leaf, black olive and hints of black licorice.
The Corbières appellation is one of the more recognizable sub regions of Languedoc where there’s a high level of production focusing on red wines primarily that are famous for being rich and herb-scented.
The wines aren’t hard to find, just use the 1000corks.com wine finder on your computer or smart phone to discover wines nearby.