Feb 24 2009
By Brett Ashley McKenzie
On Tuesday, February 17, I attended the first Languedoc Ambassadors Tour tasting and luncheon in Chicago, hosted by the Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Languedoc. Held at Avec, the event featured 28 wines that a jury of American tasters had deemed best-representative of the region. Considering that Languedoc is France’s largest wine region, I was surprised not to have heard more about the unique, intriguing wines produced there.
Located in south central France along the Mediterranean, Languedoc features 22 regional appellations, many of which remarkably different from one another. The key varieties grown include some familiar grapes–Grenache, Syrah, and Muscat–and some less well-known, such as the Piquepoul (often written as Picpoul), which translates to mean “lip-stinger,” a reference to the grape’s high levels of acidity.
Of the 22 appellations of Languedoc, 16 were featured on the Ambassadors Tour. Among the most memorable were:
- Corbières: These predominantly red wines, like the 2003 Domaine Ligneres Aric Corbierres, France available at Just Grapes, are
typically blends of Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, and Mourvèdre.
- Limoux: Some of the world’s oldest sparkling wines are Limoux, and
many are produced using the same methods as Champagne. In fact, certain
sparkling Limoux wines, such as the Saint
Hilaire Aimery Sieur d’Arques (crisp and fruity with notes of apple), predate
Champagne by more than a full century. Limoux are predominantly white wines, and
the still whites are often oak-aged.
Minervois: This appellation produces red, white, rosé and sweet
wines, and the Grenache and Syrah blends add a spiciness to the nose of the
reds. A phenomenal representative of the appellation, the Château Cabezac Cuvée
Arthur, is a zesty, peppery red with notes of black currant that pairs perfectly
with grilled meats like lamb as well as French soft cheeses.
- Picpoul de Pinet: This appellation is named for the Piquepoul grape
from which it is made. The Picquepoul grape, which grows in noir and blanc
versions, is grown in a coastal area that receives little rain.
The reasonable prices on the majority of wines of Languedoc (few bottles on the tour were priced above $24.99) and wide array of tastes and flavors make this region one to explore now, before the word gets out.