One of the best wine tasting events I’ve been to all year was the one featuring Languedoc AOC wines, where I tasted wines made from grapes that were unfamiliar to me and learned about the fascinating history of this wine region.
Below is a look at just a few of the 31 wines that were poured. I was impressed with the aroma, taste and food-friendliness of all that I tasted.
Chateau du Donjon’s 2010 Rosé comes from a vineyard situated in Minervois, one of the oldest wine-producing areas in Languedoc. Owned by the same family for 500 years, winemaker Jean Panis produced a ripe, soft and aromatic wine composed of 30% Syrah, 30% Cinsault, 40% Grenache. A lovely pink-salmon color, the aroma is a fruit bowl of strawberries, red cherries and red plums. The flavor is intense and echoes the fruit aroma, and the finish is dry and well balanced. 12.5 percent alcohol. Average internet price (wine-searcher.com) is $14.
Domaine la Croix Chaptal, Les Terrasses Rouge, 2007 is produced on an estate that formerly belonged to Gellone Abbey, founded in 804. Winemaker Charles Pacaud’s red wine combines Grenace and Carignan with a touch of Syrah. The taste is of dark fruits that follow the aroma of cherry and perhaps coffee. It is spicy and fresh, and representative of the Terrasses du Larzac area wines. This growing area is in the western part of the rural district of Saint Andre de Sangonis, about 20 miles northwest of Montpellier, a popular tourist destination due to old abbeys and natural caves. Alcohol is low: 13 percent “because we have an especial terroir which expresses the grapes and so we have flavor at lower alcohol,” according to Pacaud. Price around $20 a bottle. Distributed by www.usawinewest.com or call (415) 331-4906 to find out where to buy it; it’s worth the hunt.
Piquepoul is a wine grape with which I wasn’t familiar before this tasting. About 3,000 acres of the light-skinned Piquepoul blanc are cultivated in France, and it is one of the oldest domestic grape varieties in Languedoc. Although the name means “lip stinger” because these grapes have high acidity, I enjoyed the Domaine Felines Jourdan, Blanc 2009, Grand Vins du Languedoc. Aroma of white flower, a bit frizzante and a clear crisp taste. Delightful. 13 percent alcohol. $11 the bottle. You can find it at several California wine shops via www.wine-searcher.com
Chateau des Karantes, Blanc, 2009, AOC Languedoc, is a blend of 54 percent Bourboulenc, 14 percent vermentino, 16 percent Roussane and 16 percent Grenache Blanc. The result is a wine with aroma and taste of honey, lemon, fruit tones of apricot, a long finish and a nice balance between the fruit and acidity. Again, a new grape experience for me: Bourboulenc. Korbrand’s Web site notes that “Bourboulenc is an extremely old grape variety which is thought to have originated in Greece where it was known as the Asprokondoura. A late-ripening variety, it tends toward leanness and neutrality, but when picked at optimum maturity it retains high natural acidity and shows fresh citrus qualities with floral notes.” 13 percent alcohol. $30 by the bottle. Imported by Eagle Eye Imports at www.eagleeyebrands.com or call (248) 396-3589.
For more information about the Languedoc region, visit www.languedoc-wines.com.
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© 2011 Barbara Keck
For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "Wine Adventures" in August 2011.
Book in Process: "Mountain High Wine: The Sierra and Its Foothills".
Languedoc, located in the South of France, is the world‘s largest wine growing region and one of the oldest wine growing regions in France. “Today’s Languedoc is France’s wine frontier,” notes the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc, which sponsored the tasting. “Pioneering producers are employing both time-honored traditions and new techniques to craft wines of remarkable style and character, as well as excellent value.”