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16 May 2021

South of France: Pays d'Oc IGP part two.

The second instalment of a mini-feature on Pays d'Oc IGP wines from the Languedoc (see Part 1 for more about terminology, rationale etc.) focuses on half-a-dozen varietal wines, this time including well-known grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon blanc) and relatively new arrivals to the region or discoveries (Albariño, Marselan). Last time, my notes were mainly centred on a few different styles of Syrah, Carignan, Grenache and Viognier.

Camas Chardonnay Anne de Joyeuse 2019 (13% abv) - Sourced from vineyards in three different sites around the town of Limoux in the Aude, western Languedoc. Tasty well-balanced unoaked Chardy mixing up citrus and mango, buttery and zesty yeast lees-y nuances with crisp yet rounded finish. Chablis without the elevated acidity! Drinks & Co (US) $10.64, Les Vins du Soleil (FR) €6.70, Grapes House of Wine (BE) €6.95, Bel Vino (NL) €6.75, The Living Vine (CA) $14.95.

Sillages Albariño 2019 Les Vignobles Foncalieu (13% abv) - Enticing well-made style of this originally Galician grape (widely planted in this region of Spain and neighbouring part of north-western Portugal where it's called Alvarinho) grown in a vineyard in the village of Puichéric (close to the River Aude and Canal du Midi). Nice combination of zesty grapefruit and richer oilier Riesling-like characters, chalky and fresh palate with some roundness and weight too. Pretty good match with a couple of Malaysian king prawn dishes, Rendang curry and spicy peanut satay. Comptoir de la Cité (FR) €7.50, Le Bon Vin and Drinks & Co (UK) £11.90-£13.50.

Les Quatre Chemins Sauvignon Blanc 2020 Les Vignerons d'Argeliers (13% abv) - I've never been super-convinced that Sauvignon works very well in the Languedoc, but this easy-going example from co-op grower vineyards located inland from Narbonne is an elegant floral style with soft citrus fruits and refreshing dry finish. The winemaking note on their site is rubbish, as it says 'aged in French oak barrels for 12 months' but it had no hint of wood about it and it's 2020 vintage tasted in May '21, so go figure! Mind you, it wasn't the same label as on the site either, so a mix-up maybe? Try with salmon or plaice or on its own with nibbles. Good value at €5 cellar door.

Pinot Noir Le Village 2019 Domaine de la Métairie d'Alon, Abbotts & Delaunay (organic, 13.5% abv) - Sourced from different plots around the blink-and-miss-it village of Magrie in the Limoux hills (vines planted at 280 to 400 metres altitude). Elegant subdued Pinot with light perfumed red fruits and savoury hints, a touch of cedar oak adding dry texture and structure, taut fresh finish. Needs a few months longer in bottle to develop and express itself more? Quite dear though: £15.99 Majestic (UK), €20 Twil and Les Vins de Carole (Fr).
Domaine Girard Pinot Noir 2019 (13.5% abv) - Planted at over 300 metres above sea level, this winery has vineyards in the Malepère and Limoux regions on the far western frontier of the Languedoc. Deceptively light-touch (despite the alcohol) and tightly structured Pinot, fragrant floral berry fruits with enticing savoury edges, closed up subtle finish. Develops more flavour and complexity with a couple of hours' aeration, indicating it should be drinking nicely after a few months' bottle age. UK £12.99-£13.50 Yapp Brothers, The General Wine Company; €17.95 Wicklow Wine Co (IE); Sacred Thirst Selections, San Francisco; €9 cellar door (Fr).
Fat Bastard Pinot Noir 2019 (13%) - Part of this fun-poking range made by Gabriel Meffre winery in the southern Rhone Valley and English wine importer Guy Anderson (who I worked with for a few years in my very early days in the wine business). Relatively deep-coloured with lots of aromatic red fruits and black cherry, has a fair amount of tannin for a Pinot although is ripe and rounded too. Tasty easy-going red even if not very Pinot in character. £8.69 Winemark (NI).

The exciting Marselan variety is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache noir created in the 1960s in the Languedoc, where it has adapted well to different climate zones and landscapes although still not widely planted for some reason. I had a sample of Domaine Lalaurie 2018 but this bottle was badly corked, so I look forward to trying it again sometime...
Other Marselans on WW.com: Domaine C&D Deneufbourg (Top 100 Roussillon reds), Languedoc: Domaines Paul Mas update.

From www.worldmarselanday.com (April 27th)

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.