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   Languedoc-Roussillon is a large area that sweeps across southern France from the Spanish border to the Rhône estyary. Commonly known as the Midi, it produces almost one third of all French wines and is currently a hot bed of innovation and exciting winemaking.

  Hillside locations are replacing the flatland vineyards which once produced an enormous amount of Vin Ordinaire. Emphasis is now being placed in lower yields, barrique ageing and more complex blending. Many Rhône varieties, such as Syrah and Grenache, are planted here to grow alongisde Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot ans Chardonnay. Other well-known grape varieties can be seen on wine labels, perticularly from the Vin de Pay d’Oc, an area covering the whole of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Important appellations include Minervois, Corbiéres, Fitou and Côtes de Roussillon.

 

Up and coming

 Provence lies to the southeast of Avignon abd extends to the Italian border. A popular holiday destination, mostly dry rosé and red wines are made here. With a Mediterrean climate and some favourable soil conditions, both Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence can provide consistency in terms of quality against price, without too much variation from one year to the next. Several Australian winemakers have now brought their own ideas and experience to this part of France, which is sometimes deschbed as ‘where the new world meets the old’. Dynamic and foeard thinking, they are shaping the future of these two historic regions. It is interesting to note that well-known French companies looking to expand their interests have also established wineries and contracts with local growers.

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The wines of Maury, with flavours of sweet blackberry and a nutty, raisin-like richness, make an excellent partener to chocolate.

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  Some producers, such as Mas de Daumas Gassac, have successfully made and sold wines under a humble Vin de Pays, while reaching a level of quality and price that one would normally associate with more famous place names. Gradually, the south of France is no longer being seen as the bargain basement of bulk wine.

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