Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Wines of the Languedoc

This year we decided to visit quite a few domaines and caveaux, obviously accepting any degustations offered and undoubtedly buying a 'few' wines. It was such a task ..... not the degustation but deciding which wines to leave behind !!

During our stay in the Languedoc area of Southern France we visited five vineyards. As yet we have not actually opened any of our purchases so my descriptions and notes are a combination of the labels, producers web pages and my memory of our tastings. 

Our first visit, in fact before we checked into our hotel, was Domaine les Yeuses. Situated just outside Meze this domaine was one we had planned to visit as we enjoy their Syrah Les Espices which is available at Majestic Wine.

Syrah Les Espices is made in two parts; 60% is machine picked, 20 days maceration with the skins removed almost immediately; 40% is hand picked, 15 days fermentation and 9 months in oak barrels. 

 A lovely rounded wine with soft tannin, long finish and a delicate hint of spice. At 13.5% it is great with a barbecued beef steak, a Mexican spicy dish or after dinner with blue cheese. 

Merlot Les Grains Noir is picked later than the Syrah, around 15th September. Again it is produced separately; 75% in large vats, 25% in barrels both for 12 months, after this the wine is put together and spends another 3 months in barrels. 

It's a deep fruited wine with a smooth long finish that would accompany any red meat dish, a good one for a traditional Sunday lamb roast. 

I'm not sure if I am a white or red wine drinker, to be honest I enjoy both, it depends on the environment and occasion. As we are drawing into autumn and winter the reds will be dominant but then as spring arrives bringing sun and warmth its a white for me. 

Being in the South of France in degrees hitting 30 it was easy to imagine those summer garden days and so to cover all situations I 'had' to investigate white wine as well as helping Hubby with the reds. 

Domaine Les Yeuses had a very nice Vermentino, not a grape we see here in the UK but as our wine market grows and we look for new wines it may begin to appear on the supermarket shelves.  

Vermentino is picked in the third week of September and after fermentation rest 6 months in large vats. It's light acidity and citrus nose was quite inviting, it was a very refreshing wine with a mouth of grapefruit without being over powering. 

This would be perfect well chilled on a summers day with light nibbles; olives, cheese or salami. 

Travelling around at every turn of the road there is another sign for individual producers, however Hubby and I decided to visit a couple of Co-operatives. Being grape picking season there were plenty of tractors taking a wagon of grapes to the co-operative site to be weighed. One such co-operative caught our eye as we could see the chutes spurting out the grape skins - quite a sight. 

Ormarine is a name we know as we have enjoyed their Picpoul de Pinet from Sainsbury's so we were very pleased to discover their caveau. 

It can be quite daunting when entering the caveaux as there are so many bottles on display but in Ormarine one bottle caught our eye as soon as we stepped inside. 

Cartagene is in a tall thin very distinctive bottle, it's golden colour just shone out. This is in fact a vin de liqueur made by mixing grape spirit with grape juice so no actual fermentation occurs. 

It is similar to Pineau, a liqueur from the Vendee which was a favourite of my Dad's. 

Villemarin Blanc and Villemarin Rouge are wines that reflect the area in which they are grown, the white near the Etang du Thau famous for it's oyster and mussel beds, and the red inland where the terroir begins to rise and fall giving opportunity for the vines to be planted in various directions to absorb the most of the Mediterranean sun.  

Villemarin Blanc is a Grenache Blanc and Terret Bourret blend which is delicate, fine and well balanced with citrus highlights, a perfect match for seafood. 

Villemarin Rouge is a blend of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache Noir. It is well matched with red meats with its deep red fruit and freshness. 

Veyrac is a name we've seen and heard about but have not tired. The village of Villeveyrac is where Ormarine Co-operative is situated so it made sense to try and buy a bottle. 

A Grenache Noir and Syrah blend this wine is deep garnet in colour with the expected fruitiness/spice of this classic blend. There is a hint of chocolate on it's long finish, slightly touched by tannins. 

Haut de Senaux Viognier with its pale yellow colour was full of apricots. Viognier is becoming a popular white wine, this was smooth and rounded with a lovely elegant finish. 

This wine, served chilled, would be a perfect match with fish, chicken, light dishes.

Our final purchase from Ormarine making an easy to transport box of six was a sweeter wine, but not a dessert wine. 

Douceur du Sud is a muscat wine but unusually very very clear and looked very inviting in its blue bottle. 

A nose of light citrus which carried on in its flavour along with light apricots made this a perfect wine for pre-diner drinks. Not overly sweet, not cloying but crisp and refreshing without being acidic. 

Driving through the village of Pomerols we came across another co-operative, Beauvignac. We'd seen this brand on a few of the local restaurant wine lists so decided to investigate. 

Picpoul de Pinet is named from this area and the small hamlet of  Pinet which lies a few kilometres from Pomerols. In recent years this wine has become very popular in the UK especially with mussels. 

As we hadn't yet purchased any Picpoul de Pinet we decided this would be our first choice from Beauvignac. A lovely pale wine with hues of green in it's recognisable long tall bottle.

Picpoul always has the nose of the sea; salt, lemons - it just shouts seafood and with a fresh palate of citrus and minerals it is the perfect match. 

Our two white purchases from the vast array in the caveau were blends; Viognier and Savignon. The Voigner was in a shorter wider bottle whereas the Savignon in a more widely used wine bottle shape.

The Viognier was full of white fruit, peaches, apricots with a delicate mouth and rich finish, whereas the Sauvignon had a crisp citrus flavour with a clean long finish. Sauvignon is my favourite grape and this wine was my favourite in this tasting.

The red wine we purchased had the name 'Vin d'une Nuit' which literally means wine of one night. It's a single grape; Syrah, full of dark fruits, bramble, and spice with a long, slightly tannic finish.

Finally from Beauvignac another blue bottle, Cotes de Thau Moelleux Blanc. A light wine with a touch of sweetness made from Picpoul Blanc and Colomard.

Such a striking wine in it's pale blue bottle, its clearness making the bottle appear see-through.

This was a light delicate wine with many subtle hints of flavour; lemon, tropical fruit, sweetness. This will be resting on our rack until next summer when we'll be enjoying it outside with cheese and olives.

Over time as we enjoy our purchases from the Languedoc I'll add more tasting notes to my blog, on Twitter (@Aimetu) and on Cuvée Reserve (my wine forum). It's hard to know which to enjoy first, dinner choices may be the catalyst in our selection.

We did also visit two other domaines - both quite important to us in differing ways. I'll be adding those to my blog in the next few days - cheers

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