For some time VÍ Vid has maintained an interest in the wines of the Languedoc Roussillon in Southern France. The problem has been the availability of the wines in Spain but the last two to three years has seen a number of new importers and distributors adding French wines in general and wines from the ‘Midi’ in particular. We had been lucky to have tasted a number of wines from the region recently in professional tastings and events.
We recently gave a tasting of six wines from the region to our Pedralba tasting group.
The history of the vineyards of the Languedoc-Roussillon is not dissimilar from that of the Valencian Community. Vines were introduced by the Phoenicians, reached a peak during the Roman period, were badly affected by Phylloxera… and just like Valencia, the area was a bulk exporter of wines until a revival in artisan winemaking in the 90s. The area produces red, rosé, and white wines and Vermouths (Dubonnet, Saint-Raphaël and Noilly Prat) and has its own Moscatels from Frontignan and Lunel in particular.
The move to modern wine making techniques and the influence of US and Australian winemakers began in the 1990s and has progressed steadily since then. These were the wines we tasted.
Domaine de Montahuc Blanc 2021, Muscat à petits grains, IGP Pays D’Oc.13.5%ABV
From 17 hectares of 25 year old vines planted in ‘goblet’ on the chalk soils of an old lake bed near Saint-Jean-de Minervois, 45km north of Narbonne. The IGP was created in 2009, and was probably formerly part of old Vins de Pays de L’Aude.
Low temperature maceration and fermentation in stainless steel followed by a short period of ageing also in steel. Pale yellow in colour, golden flashes, clean and bright. On the nose it is initially light and floral before the inevitable white stone fruits, (peach, apricot) appear together with light citrus notes.
In the mouth it is light on entry; fresh with the citrus notes initially, then exotic fruits. It has a long finish with salty and mineral notes, a gift from the poor and shallow soils on which it is grown! So elegant, this is one of the best wines we have ever tasted from the variety. It is a gastronomic wine, capable of use as an aperitif, but good also with rich seafood dishes, vegetables or chicken e.g.
La Lykia Blanc, 2019, Domaine Gangloff, AOP la Clape, 13.5%ABV.
La Clape was within the Coteaux-du-Languedoc VDQS in 1960, becoming the Coteaux-du-Languedoc AOC in 1985 but is, since 2015, a stand-alone AOP. The Phoenicians named the area La Lykia, which is a sheer cliff escarpment rising from a dry lake fed originally by the River Aude. The soils here are also chalk based.
Small production wine, it is a blend of 50% Bourbolenc, 30% Garnacha Blanca and 20% Roussanne. Lemon yellow, clean and very bright, it has long, slow legs. On the nose white stone fruit, apricots and peach, floral notes, expressive white flowers, herbs, slightly perfumed, savoury, then finally ripe pear fruit.
On entry it is straightaway a big mouthful but very elegant with it, there is good volume, good structure, and a lovely fresh acidity with a tannic note which leads to an all-round very well balanced wine. Good long finish. Same food pairings as the first wine, a wine for gastronomy!
Morillon Blanc 2020, Chardonnay, Jeff Carrell, IGP Pays d’Aude, 14% ABV
Originally Vins du Pays de L’Aude, which encompassed most of the wine regions in the Aude Departement, the IGP was created in 2009 with certain villages gaining AOC status. Jeff Carrell is an itinerant wine-maker and assessor of wineries throughout the world as well as the Languedoc-Roussillon region, producing several wines under his own name all of which demonstrate varietal characteristics. ’Morillon’ is the name for Chardonnay in the Occitan language.
With eight months on the lees in French oak barrels and regular bâtonnage, this is not surprisingly a very expressive wine. Yellow gold to gold in colour, bright, clean with fat, long legs. On the nose a maturity, pear, pineapple, peach, mixed with butter, brioche, then at the end comes banana and vanilla notes from the wood.
Very full on entry with a lively acidity which makes you salivate and dive back for another sip! Almost an oily note, the wine is dense. Almonds and cashew emerge in a long, fruity and expressive finish!
Paresse 2018, Domaine Gangloff, Terrasses du Larzac AOP 14% ABV
Second wine from Domaine Gangloff who have vineyards throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon in the better AOPs. Terrasses du Larzac is a new AOP (created in 2005 in what was originally the Coteaux de Languedoc, VQDS). The AOP allows only Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre and this wine is 50%, 30% and 20% of the first three.
This is a land of terraces built into canyons on very stony ground, 50km to the North West of Montpellier. Medium bodied red cherry colour.
On the nose this wine is full of red fruit, spice and mountain herbs and scrub. Raspberry, blueberry, fruits of the forest. Expressive. Initially quite light on entry, but the fruit and spice fills the mouth, growing and finishing with black chocolate.
Canyon de L’Église 2019, Domaine de Montahuc, Minervois AOP, 14%ABV.
From one of the oldest vineyards in the Languedoc Roussillon, Minervois was a VDQS from 1951 becoming an AOC, now AOP in 1985 and covering the best vineyards in the Aude and Hérault Departements. This vineyard is near Saint Jean de Minervois in the Cañón de Dieuvaille, another terrace being a dry lake bed in the hills with very stony, poor soils. 60% Syrah, 30% Garnacha, 10% Carignan. Medium to full bodied cherry, with long legs. On the nose it is delicate and fruity, (red fruits).
In the mouth it really comes into its own. Fresh on entry, Black cherry, cherries in liquor with very smooth tannins, it has a gentle note of piquancy and notes of garrigue (scrub), and minerals.
Noctambule 2019, Domaine Gangloff, Faugères AOP, 14.5%ABV
Faugères is one of the older AOPs, (1982) and covering just seven small villages and, with a limited number of properties, one of the easiest to control, one of the most fashionable and one of the most expensive. This wine is from grapes grown on shale slopes above the River Orb, North of Béziers. From Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and with a little Mourvèdre.
Medium to full bodied, black cherry coloured wine, long legs. On the nose it has similar red fruit notes. This is the Syrah – when you first smell a wine, without swirling the glass, if it comes rushing up to the nose it is the volatility in the Syrah variety. Raspberry, but this time mature and with a touch of jam. Then plum and blackcurrant, even more mature fruit. Spice, (liquorice). Balanced, a very good structure, smooth tannins, fresh acidity. A long finish with a range of salty, mineral notes from the stony soils. All the pointers for a long life in bottle.
Chozas Carrascal Brut Nature Réserva. 2017. DO Cava de Requena, 12.5%ABV.
The original cava from this bodega. Macabeo and Chardonnay in a blend.
Between 15-20% of the wine spends time in barrica with weekly bâtonnage and then, post blending second fermentation in bottle with 15 months minimum before disgorging.
Straw yellow with golden flashes, clean, brilliant aspect, fine persistent bubbles.
On the nose, delicate, intense fruit, apple, apricot and tropical fruits. Magnolia flower, toasty creamy notes of patisserie. In the mouth, fresh with some volume, well-structured, fine well-integrated bubbles. Balanced acidity, persistent and elegant.
This was one of the most exciting tastings we have given. Wines of outstanding quality, which were widely appreciated and which are a true reflection of their varieties and the soils on which they were grown. The wines are all available here in Valencia.
Report by Riki Wigley and Marian Darás
Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’
Notes for Editors.
VÍ Vid is a project supporting the development of wine knowledge and gastronomy in the Valencian Community. We run wine clubs, give tastings of Valencian wines in English and support wine-makers and bodegas directly. We are also contributors to Verema´s ADN Wine Guide. We can be found in Instagram (Vivid8402), and through our blog VÍ Vid at https://vvidblog.wordpress.com, in https://www.facebook.com/Vivideventos and in Twitter @vividvinos.