Even if your understanding of the French language begins with “Bon jour” and ends with “Au revoir”, it shouldn’t intimidate or prevent you from trying wines from the Mecca of the entire wine universe – France! Grapes have been growing in France for over 2000 years and the soil and climate conditions serve as the perfect incubator for all sorts of well-known and not so well-known grapes. Zen lies between the 40th and 50th parallels north, where the climate ranges from burr cold to chaffed thighs rubbing together in a pair of jeans on a summer day hot. One of my personal favorite wine stomping grounds in France is the Languedoc.
The Languedoc is one of the most exciting wine regions in the entire wine world. Why? Because it’s a region that possesses hundreds of small producers making awesome wines ranging in all colors and styles. But the really cool thing about wines from the Languedoc is that most of these tiny producers still make wine in the Old World way, which allows these wines to showcase their distinctive characteristics and gives them a true sense of home. And the best of all – you can experience many of these unique and wonderful wines for less than 15 US dollars.
Here are a few Languedoc killer values that I’ve been just plain old gaga over since first tasting them a little while back.
2008 Le Jade Picpoul de Pinet (<$10 US) – This white wine gem wallops a dynamite grapefruit, lime and pineapple acidic charge from start to its glorious, zesty finish. It’s extremely food-friendly and has the chops to stand up to anything from bacon-wrapped scallops over Southwestern seasoned mixed vegetables to a melted Manchego cheese and Italian Sopressata quesadilla! I speak from experience on these two.
2008 Cave de Pomerols Picpoul de Pinet HB (<$10 US) – This is another white treasure from the Languedoc. All I can tell you is that this or the Le Jade are normally sitting in my refrigerator at all times. For less than 10 bucks a bottle (in most parts of the US), both of these wines are outstanding values.
2004 Château La Clotte-Fontane “Cremailh” (<$13 US) – This is a new discovery for me. This red wine consists of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache grapes. It has just the perfect amount of weight and richness to it at the very first sip and the prominent red fruit (raspberry) flavors are outstanding. But the big draw for me about this wine is its spices. It packs an awesome punch of interesting sweet and peppery notes from start to its long finish. If that’s not enough to grab you, how about this – the owners of this winery enjoy bullfighting in their free time. That’s reason enough to give this red a shot.
All three of these Languedoc offerings are tops in my value book and will go terrific with a variety of different types of food. So don’t get hung up on what you may not understand on these and other French labels, and discover the great juice that’s inside!
To learn more about wines from the Languedoc, check out Ryan O’Connell’s website called Love That Languedoc.