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24 April 2021

South of France: IGP and Vin de France


Many wine producers in southern France make wines labelled as Indication Géographique Protégée or IGP, which replaced Vin de Pays over ten years ago as part of a Europe-wide rationalisation of wine laws and 'trademarking' of specified wine areas. Hence in Italy, it's Indicazione Geografica Protetta or Indicación Geográfica Protegida in Spain, although confusingly they still also use the term Vino de la Tierra ('country wine') whereas the French have dropped Vin de Pays.
The largest and most popular in the south of France is Pays d'Oc IGP incorporating much of the new Occitanie region, an amalgamation of the Languedoc, Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées created five years ago, and covers the former two-thirds of this super-region. Some winemakers prefer to use this nomenclature exclusively, deliberately wishing to ignore stricter appellation rules; and it's obviously a useful moniker for producing and selling 100% varietals that don’t qualify for Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP) status.
IGP Pays d'Oc is favoured in the Languedoc, as e.g. Roussillon winemakers tend to use IGP Côtes Catalanes for greater local identity. Any official blurb describing the types of IGP wine made are usually somewhat general (given the freedom and scope offered to winemakers) from being for immediate enjoyment to something much more serious; and the reality is that IGP wines can be found on sale at €5 or even €50 a bottle and anything in between, because sometimes a producer's best wine is labelled this way rather than AOP.
In addition, there's been a surge in interest in the region (and throughout France) in having certain wines categorised simply as Vin de France for those who don't want to play ball and don't care about any possible outdated stigma attached to the name (hints of Vin de Table of the past perhaps). This label terminology legally allows a winemaker to make a cross-regional blend as well, while having a winery based outside of the area where the grapes are grown. Or, on a much smaller scale, for those experimental winemakers who know it's a waste of time trying to get their 'natural' or off-the-wall or other non-conformist wines approved by a sometimes self-interested appellation tasting quango.


Pays d'Oc IGP

L'Ostal Blanc Viognier 2019, Famille J-M Cazes (13%) - Floral apricot and honeysuckle, quite voluptuous mouth-feel although restrained too for a Viognier, chalky and zesty to finish (the wine was left on the fine yeast-lees for a several weeks before bottling). Good with smoked haddock with gnocchi, green beans and pesto. £12-£13 UK.

Olivier Coste Old Star Carignan Noir 2020 (13%) - From old bush vines grown on pebbly soils, it tastes a little like it was made in a Beaujolais Nouveau style (but frankly much better and more interesting), although the winemaking blurb says 'three-week maceration with pumping over' of the must. Very aromatic and floral with ripe blueberry and blackcurrant notes, tasty juicy palate with lots of fruit and subtle depth, refreshing light tannins and lingering soft elegant fruity finish. And no oak. Delicious. I like the man's style too: Olivier's email address is bonjour at faitavecamour.love (hello @ 'made with love' . love). About €10-€11 France, £10-£11 UK, $21-$22 Canada.
Les Jamelles Carignan Le Beillou 2018 (15%) - This attention-grabbing Carignan is totally different in style, made from 'century-old vines planted in the southwestern Minervois region' and picked later very ripe. Half of the harvest is vinified uncrushed with the stems in wooden vats, the rest in vats in the usual way, and the wine is aged in 228-litre oak barrels and 550-litre casks for 6+ months.
Bit of a monster in several ways - it comes in an unfashionably big heavy bottle measuring 15% abv and showing natural-leaning wild-side touches - but this very tasty red isn't all front by any means. Enticing perfumed wild blueberry and cherry nose with balsamic and maturing savoury edges, huge punchy palate (at first) but has subtle concentration of lingering savoury black olive flavours, sweet and sour fruit with peppery herbs all wrapped in dry-coated although rounded oak-dusted tannins, lively and long finish. Wow: not for the fainthearted. Coped fairly well with spicy lamb samosas, or pesto mash on another occasion. One of their Sélection Parcellaire range sourced from a single site. £15-£20 UK, €20 France.

Domaine Gayda Collection Grenache 2019 (14%) - Delicious unoaked Grenache from this go-getting Languedoc winery with kirsch and dark chocolate tones, fairly soft cherry and liquorice finish, just a hint of tannin and well-hidden oomph. Good with duck. £9.99 James Nicholson (JN) Wines (10% off mixed case).

Domaine de Sauzet Syrah 'Jeanne & André' 2018, organic wine with no added sulphites (14.5%) - Fermented in concrete vats, no oak. Lovely wild nose of mint, rosemary, smoked bacon and very ripe dark cherry and olive, meaty and liquorice flavours too with peppery edges; dense, concentrated and firm mouth-feel although maturing and rounded too, complex smoky finish with rich sweet / savoury notes. Superb 'natural' type Syrah that matched a lamb Balti admirably. €16 cellar door.
Les Collines du Bourdic Syrah 2019 (13.5%) - More straightforward perhaps, or less wild at least, but nevertheless another very tasty Syrah showing fragrant violet and black cherry notes with spicy herby tinges, powerful palate rounded out by pure black fruits and a firm yet attractive coating of tannin with light bitter liquorice twist. £8.50 UK, €6-€8 Netherlands and Germany. US importer as well.
Secret de Lunès Syrah 2019, Vignobles Jeanjean (organic, 13.5%) - Black cherry and liquorice with spicy tones, fairly punchy mouth-feel with dusty tannins (30% of the wine is aged 3 months in oak), some lingering dark fruit with baked olive and leather nuances; attractive enough although a little unbalanced considering the quality of Syrah at this lost-in-the-wilds wine estate somewhere north of Montpellier.


Côtes Catalanes IGP

L'effet papillon Grenache noir & Syrah 2019 (14.2%) - One of a less expensive trio made by the owners of Domaine Roc des Anges in the Roussillon, this solid lightly rustic Grenache and Syrah blend offers lush spicy plum fruit and chunky framework. JN Wine £12 / £10.80 (with case discount).
L'effet papillon Grenache blanc & Macabeu 2019 (13%) - This flavoursome aromatic white offers enticing juicy pear fruit with yeast-lees and almost wild herbal notes, elegant soft lingering flavours. JN Wine  £11.50 / £10.35.
Tons more Côtes Catalanes wines are recommended here (red) and here (white), all extracted from the extensive tasting research behind my book on the Roussillon (follow link to purchase your copy if you're inclined).

Méditerranée IGP

Petit Mazuret Viognier 2019 (14%) - Thought-provoking style of Viognier from southern Provence that downplays the overt apricot/peach characters, although it's certainly aromatic with rich spicy honeyed fruit, rounded oily texture and quite concentrated finish. Try with smoked haddock. £9.50 JN Wines (10% off mixed case).

Vin de France

Le Petit Chat Malin blanc 2019, Boutinot (13%) - Aromatic zesty unoaked blend of Grenache Blanc (60%) with Marsanne (20%) and Roussanne 10%, chalky yeast-lees tones mingle with lightly exotic fruit, medium bodied with lingering refreshing finish. £8.49 DC Wines (Belfast).
Le Petit Chat Malin rosé 2019, Boutinot (12%) - Elegant Languedoc blend of Grenache Noir (60%), Cinsault (30%) and Syrah (10%) giving a delicate rose petal tinged rosé with light red fruits and almond notes, dry and crisp. £8.49 DC Wines (Belfast).
La Vieille Ferme rosé 2020, the Perrin Family (13%) - Also produced from Grenache (60%), Cinsault (30%) and Syrah (10%) but sourced from the southern Rhone Valley, this tasty dry rosé is floral and fruity with zingy finish and a little mouth-weight. £7.50 Asda, Tesco.

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