Languedoc Reds: Still searching for identity

Not so long ago, the Languedoc region was often called “France’s California. “Not so much because it’s hot, dry and large, though all right, but as far as wine is concerned, anything will happen.

In other regions of France, it seems the rules are clear. For example, Red Burgundy is made with pinot noir, and manufacturers rarely have a reason to deviate from them.

But Languedoc is different. Its history is in producing large quantities of inexpensive wine, whose quantity far outweighs the quality. But as drinking habits developed, people in France and everywhere else began to consume less wine, but better quality. Languedoc has long struggled to adapt and acquire a clear new identity.

Producers have little reason to abide by appellation rules – few buy wines because they are called Corbières or St.-Chinian, two of Languedoc’s many appellations.

As in California, they have experimented with, supplementing or replacing traditional Southern French red grapes like carignan, cinsault and grenache with more popular world-class grapes like cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Often, grape growers are helped by the European Union, offering incentives to replace vines they consider to be of low quality, like carignan.

I’ve got some great cabernet wines from Languedoc that I believe have done justice to their terrorists. However, as in many regions of the world, Languedoc is also rediscovering the vines that have grown there for so long. Created with quality in mind rather than quantity, wines can be distinctive and appealing.

This month we will drink three reds from the Languedoc region. The bottles I recommend are:

Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Corbières Rouge 2019 (Rosenthal Wine Merchant), New York $17

Domaine de l’Hortus Pic Saint Loup Bergerie Classique Rouge 2019 (Polaner Selection, Mount Kisco, NY) $20

Domaine d’Aupilhac Languedoc Lou Maset 2018 (Kermit Lynch Liquor Dealer, Berkeley, Calif.) $23

If you can only find more recent wines, that’s fine. If you can’t find these bottles, other manufacturers to look for include Domaine des 2 AnesClos Fantine, Domaine les Serrals, Domaine des Amiel, Domaine Rimbert, Clos Marie, Domaine Leon Barral, Château Maris, Mas Jullien and Maxime Magnon.

I don’t think you need to be picky about what to serve with them. Meaty stews and soups, roasts, sausages, bean dishes, chicken dishes – all pretty good. I expect these wines to be rustic rather than refined, and I mean in a good way.

One more point: Languedoc is often referred to as Languedoc-Roussillon. It is probably the natural association of two neighborhoods in the south of France. But they are quite different, and are increasingly seen as independent of each other.

Maybe soon, if I can find enough bottles, we’ll check out the Roussillon Caucasian for a completely different experience. Languedoc Reds: Still searching for identity

Fry Electronics Team

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