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13 July 2010

Signature Bio

"Bio" as in short for organic in French ("biologique") rather than hazard or biography, this anuual competition for Languedoc and Roussillon wines "made from organically grown grapes" (using the Brussels speak, who by the way have just rejected a motion to sanction the term "organic wine," as obviously that would make it too easy for people to understand label terminology...) widened its reach this year by including other local organic produce/products such as fruit juice, jam and yoghurt.
On the wine front - I didn't take part in the judging in the end as I had an annoying intrusive cough - I tasted a few of the winners at the press conference where I talked to a couple of the winemakers. There were two trophy-winning bottles: Jérôme Chardon's (who's been doing organics for 20 years and biodynamics since 2002) Bien Luné 2009 red (Syrah & Grenache) from Domaine Terre des Chardons in Costières de Nîmes (fairly priced at €8) - nice peppery and ripe dark cherry nose; lovely rich liquorice fruit with "tar" notes, quite soft tannins and a bit of weight; peppery vs savoury finish and rounded mouth-feel. 88-90. Will have to go and see him sometime.
And Pierre Gabison, owner of Chateau de Caraguilhes in the Corbières, for their top red "Solus" 2008 (€19), which wasn't available for tasting on this occasion but I tried a cask sample of it back in January at the property with winemaker Etienne Besancenot: a serious Mourvèdre, Syrah and Grenache blend that I rated as a very promising 90-92. Their lovely rosé 2009 (€7 or £9.20 at Waitrose in the UK) also got a gold medal, plus a silver for the 2009 Corbières "classique" rouge (€7, also at Waitrose £7.59): more notes and info on Caraguilhes here.
I also liked Domaine de Tavernel's vin de pays du Gard rosé 2009: nice chunky fruity rounded and dry style (85), although hardly gold-medal material (more comments here and here on my experience of French wine competitions, i.e. too many medals); still, a bargain at €3.50. And same goes for Domaine Costeplane's tasty well-made vin de pays d'Oc Chardonnay 2009 (€5). Among the silvers, I've picked out this wine as one I already knew and worth seeking out: Domaines Petit Roubié Picpoul de Pinet white 2009 (€5.20).
As for the crowned jams, this one is a must-try if you like figs: "Confiture de Figues entières" (whole) made by François Fabre in Espira de l'Agly. And from the soft drinks I had a slurp of: Syllvette Serre's delicious varietal apple juices from her orchard in Ponteilla, and "Nectar d'abricot" from Véronique Dajon in Los Masos, all three in the Roussillon by coincidence.
A few "interesting" stats on organic farming in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It's now 2nd nationally in terms of "usable farming surface area" devoted to organics - 6.4% of the total area (and about 3% of vineyards) - with the fatest growth-rate for converting over to organic farming in France (+27.5% in 2009) and likely to be over 2000 certified organic producers in the region by the end of the year (with probably over 10,000 hectares or 25,000 acres of vines).
Photo by Alain REYNAUD. More info: www.millesime-bio.com and www.agribio-languedoc-roussillon.fr

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