Corbières, Minervois and Saint-Chinian might be the darlings of the Languedoc, but growers and winemakers are working hard to upgrade quality across the region. New appellations like La Clape and Pic Saint-Loup, as well as many older regions are making strides to transform Languedoc to showcase the potential of its soils, the grapes and the talent that come from this area.
Delicious wines are materializing across the region, and I’ve highlighted six trending, inspirational appellations with a few wines to showcase each area.
TERRASSES DU LARZAC AOC
What makes this region special: Set in the foothills of the Causse du Larzac, the vineyards in the Terrasses Du Larzac are indeed unique. On the west side, the vines grow in rock known as ruffe, an extremely iron rich soil that is a beautiful brick color. The east and northward vines grow in limestone and clay soils, and stony terraces of the Hérault valley. Winemakers often blend varieties of the Languedoc AOC together—Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache noir, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, to produce excellent quality wine.
2014 Domaine Saint Sylvestre Rouge, Terraces du Larzac, France ($18)
Soft and smooth with lively flavors of ripe fruit and spices. Finishes medium-long with a tinge of mint. Nicely balanced; good acidity and tannins.
2014 Domaine du Causse D’Arboras The Rift AOP Terrasses du Larzac, France ($17)
This is a 75% Syrah, 20% Grenache noir and 5% Mourvèdre with rich, intense color. The flavors are foundationally spicy with punchy and jammy overtones. It’s delicious, concentrated and lively.
2015 Château de Crès Ricards Stecia Les Terrasses du Larzac, France ($14)
Deliciously smooth with nutty, spicy flavors, balanced with bright, interesting raisin toast flavors. Tannins are well integrated, with a good dose of spice and oak. Pair it with your favorite grilled meat or vegetable dishes.
2015 Château de Crès Ricards Oenothera Les Terrasses du Larzac, France ($17)
Lovely candied fruit, spices and dark fruits of blackberries and dark sweet cherries complement the chocolate and licorice backbone. It’s delicious and structured with a long, silky finish.
2016 Mas Lasta AOP Terrasses du Larzac, France ($23)
I had a barrel sample of this wine, and was blown away by its beauty. It’s one of those special wines I rarely find, which produces that wonderful yin-and-yang harmony that is hard to find. Consisting of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% Carignan, it’s beautifully balanced between a feminine, red fruit feistiness juxtaposed against a masculine, dark fruit undertone. You’ll love this wine for its purity, complexity, and subtleness.
LANGUEDOC AOC – PÉZENAS
What makes this region special: Pézenas lies in the basalt lava that formed over a million years ago, which, when mixed with other soil formations, gives the terroir and landscape their particularly distinctive flavor. Within Pézenas lies Molière wine country, where winegrowing is an ancient tradition. The vineyards sit near the Hérault River, offering diverse soils of quaternary river pebbles, to schist that sits to the west. You’ll love the wines for their expressiveness and freshness.
2012 Le Domaine Pech Rome ‘Opulens’ Pézenas, Languedoc France ($23)
Pascal Blondel from Domaine Pech Rome makes absolutely fabulous wines. He crafts them to express the quintessence of the terroir, which have elegance and finesse. Velvety and refined, this prestige ‘Opulens’ cuvee delivers opulent red and black fruit flavors. It’s a delicious low yielding, high quality wine that is complex and heavenly.
2014 Le Domaine Pech Rome ‘Clemens’ Pézenas, Languedoc France ($15)
Pascal Blondel’s Grenache-based cuvee fully expresses the region it comes from—animated and fresh, its layers of red fruits and olives finishes long and strong, with a hint of herbs on the finish. What a beautiful wine!
2014 Le Domaine Pech Rome ‘Florens’ Pézenas, Languedoc France ($11)
An easy drinking, fresh Mourvèdre that is playful and creative. It’s got a lot going on, with fresh fruit flavors that dance in the glass. Culinary pairings are extensive, from pasta and vegetables to steak dishes. Drink now.
LANGUEDOC AOC – LA MEJANELLE
What makes this region special: The Cartulaire de Maguelone was talking about the vineyards owned by the bishops in the region of Méjanelle back in the Middle Ages. Vineyards are woven into the outskirts of the capital of Languedoc, with large estates and beautiful architecture that was built between 1685 and 1771. Wines from here are bold, concentrated, and meaty, with aromas and flavors of ripe fruit, smoke and spice.
2015 Château Ministre Coteaux Du Languedoc Tentation Du Pasteur Mejanelle Tête De Cuvée, France ($14)
Classic for the region, this Tête De Cuvée is round, smooth, rich and intense, with ripe fruits, smoke and spice. Pair it with your favorite BBQ dish, roasted meats or full-flavored cheeses.
LANGUEDOC AOC – SOMMIERES
What makes this region special: The kings of France and Aragon, together with the Avignon popes, princes and lords of Languedoc and Provence served wines from this region to their guests. The vineyards back into the foothills of the Cévennes, and share land with olive trees, garrigue and truffle oaks. Syrah and Grenache reign supreme, producing wines that are pleasantly resilient.
2013 Chateau L’Argentier Rouge, Coteaux du Languedoc Terres de Sommières, France ($14)
The same family has been running Château l’Argentier since 1937. Current owners Elisabeth & Francois Jourdan are committed to producing terroir-driven wines from the old vines planted on Silex soils. This particular wine consisting of 70% Syrah, 20% Carignan, and 10% Grenache is soft and pretty, offering layers of red and black fruit notes and a great quality-to-price-ratio (QPR) to boot.
Languedoc wines are very food freindly, pairing with everything from vegetable dishes to grilled meats, seafood, and fried foods
LA CLAPE AOC
What makes this region special: Situated on the outskirts of Narbonne, La Clape was once an island. Know known for its lakes and beauty, this rugged landscape is now connected to the mainland, and produces incredible whites and reds that are nurtured by sea breezes. It’s a beautiful place that must be visited, and the wines are simply delicious.
2013 Chateau D’Angles Grand Vin GSM, La Clape AOC, France ($26)
Eric Fabre of Chateau D’Angles was the technical director of Château Lafite for eight years before taking on the venture to grow grapes in the south of France. His wines are exquisite and a delight to drink. The Grand Vin Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre (GSM) is complex and brooding with layers of black fruits, spice and licorice. This region also produces wines that have a hint of mint, which is captivating. The finish is silky with integrated tannins and lively acidity. Drink now or cellar for a decade or more. Awesome!!
2015 Sarrat De Goundy Combe Aux Louves, La Clape, France ($23)
This is a beautiful cuvee made primarily from low-yielding Mourvèdre. It’s fresh, lively and audacious, with aromas and flavors of fresh herbs and red fruits. It has broad culinary applications from light pasta dishes to lamb.
PIC SAINT-LOUP AOC
What makes this region special: Pic Saint-Loup is North of Montpellier on the Cevennes foothills, and the landscape is quite dramatic and rugged. The soil in this region is clay-limestone and marl-limestone, producing some of the finest wines in the Languedoc, known for their finesse and great freshness. Red wines made from Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre dominate, but Rosé accounts for 10% of its production, producing fresh fruity wine.
2014 Domaine Les Grandes Costes Pic Saint-Loup, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($22)
Lovely, rich and balanced, this red blend is refreshing yet bold, with smooth tannins and a long, enticing finish. It’s a perfect food wine that would pair well with so many dishes—from cheese and fruit to meats and pasta.
2013 Domaine Les Grandes Costes Languedoc les 7 Rangées Rouge, Pic Saint-Loup, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($50)
Wow, what a complex wine! It’s savory and seductive, with fine, silky tannins—it’s a great crowd-pleaser with plenty to like. Pretty notes of red and blue fruits dominate, and it’s fresh with a lot of finesse. Drink it, you’ll love it.
This article was originally posted on Oregonlive.com