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21 February 2022

Pays d'Oc, South of France part 4.

Poet Frédéric Mistral.
These eleven wines (we go that one extra, so "these go up to 11") were worth typing about picked from the latest batch of diverse samplings from IGP Pays d'Oc (essentially the entire Occitanie region although these are all from the Languedoc), boldly billed in the press release as 'Pays d’Oc wines for every festive occasion.' Previous posts on Pays d'Oc include these linked below (there'll be more if you can be bothered to look, use the search doofer on the right):

The image above, taken from the Domaine de Bachellery website, is of this local Nobel Prize winning poet, who apparently was fond of the estate's wines and wrote a poem about the place: "C'est Bachellery (BACHELÈRI in the Occitan original) mon pays, Qui me goûte point ne trahit, Et n'a ni souci ni colère, mais de trinquer se réjouit..." (1863). It's appropriate then that their smooth maturing red wine Baccalarius 2016 (14.5% abv) is somewhat lyrical in its deft mix of powerful and elegant with sweet cherry, liquorice and spice, concentrated and full-bodied palate while ageing nicely with soft tannins and smoky savoury side.
It's made almost entirely from Grenache noir (plus a dash of Syrah I'm told) grown near Béziers, with some of the press wine blended back into the free-run juice before ageing for at least 12 months in three year-old barrels (the oak treatment isn't very noticeable at this stage apart from the lovely texture it helped to create). €12 cellar door France; it looks like the range is available in Japan from wine-labo.jp (it's in Japanese of course); and this wine may be imported into the US seeing that a price of $16 is quoted by tastings.com.
Pinot Noir Le Village 2019 Domaine de la Métairie d'Alon comes from enterprising Languedoc company Abbotts & Delaunay, who bought these prime Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards (now organic) in 2015 lying around Magrie at altitude in the southern Limoux hills. Classy and delicate Pinot, despite 14% abv, with aromatic berry/cherry fruit, light hint of spicy oak, enticing savoury aftertaste and refreshing finish. Went well with roast duck chow mein. €20 France; UK: Majestic Wine £18.99/£15.99 ('mix 6'). Organic.
Ournac Frères Pinot Noir 2020 Domaine Coudoulet (13% abv) - From vineyards in the Cesseras area, Minervois country. Hints of oak (cask-aged 10 months) but in the background, floral sweet red berry fruit with seductive smoky earthy edges, nice depth of sweet/savoury Pinot character with gentle silky tannins, elegant fresh and well-poised with lingering tangy flavours despite the ripe fruit style. Very tasty. €18 France; €20 Netherlands (2019); coming soon in Canada (Montréal).
Cuvée JMF 2019 Domaine Grand-Chemin (13% abv): An unusual combo of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, sourced from this winery located northwest of Nîmes, comes together to give herby peppery cooked blackcurrant notes on top of something darker and richer with maturing meaty and lightly rustic/smoky edges, still a touch of firm grip but well-textured tannins with subtle depth and length. Good with Polish-style dumplings (potato with pork and beef filling) smothered in courgette, mushrooms, garlic and pesto. €11.40 France.
Septem Quercus 2018 Domaine Montlobre (50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc; 14% abv): The label says that 'seven barrels were selected for this special blend,' hence the pretentious Latin name (quercus means oak tree), and presumably the wine was left in them for a while as it tastes pretty oaky still. However, it has fairly dark and dense colour for a 2018 with alluring rich smoky fruit underneath that spicy cedar oak, sweet damson with red peppery edges, concentrated and powerful yet balanced with savoury liquorice notes on its long finish; the fine tannins are still quite firm but not drying. That dark chocolate oak lingers a little too, but you get the impression this well-made solid red could age much further and perhaps the fruit will emerge more over time.
Perhaps testament to this is that the bottle was left open for three days from first opening and, apart from a nuance of (expected) oxidation, the wine hadn't changed much although showed more sweet / savoury fruit and less overt oak. The estate is found just northwest of Montpellier. €24 France.
N116 'Sans Sulfites Ajoutés' Domaine Guilhem 2021 (Merlot, no added sulphites, 13% abv): Deep purple colour, very fruity and aromatic with black cherry and berry, damson, elderberry, blackcurrant you name it etc. notes, soft-textured 'carb maceration' style (like Beaujolais) with ripe juicy fruit and dry tangy yet supple finish. Pleasant enough quaffing red (one glass) with a tad of bite, although it tastes like that not-all-together nouveau lab experiment thing (fruit + aromas + alcohol but not really like a finished wine). Organic and vegan. €9.50 France.
Nielluccio 2020 Domaine la Cendrillon (organic, 14.5% abv): Nielluccio is 'the Corsican name for Sangiovese,' and this characterful red was kick-started with 'whole bunch maceration' and brief fermentation in stainless steel vats, then drained off after three days to complete fermentation. No added sulphites. Perfumed berry and (morello) cherry fruit with spicy cinnamon and smoky edges, peppery and powerful, tight finish with some structured tannin but it's well-balanced despite the oomph with lingering dried fruits too. Tasty red and something a little different. The estate lies to the west of Narbonne. Good with roast duck. €9
Oh la la! 2020 Domaine de Paraza (60% Syrah, 20% Marselan, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, unoaked; 14.5% abv): Purple black colour, lush peppery nose with black cherry and berry and wild herb edges, big chunky palate but not-too-firm tannins, punchy fruity finish with black olive / dark chocolate bitter twist. Located in Minervois country close to the Canal du Midi. France €7.50; Jackson Nugent Vintners in London ships some of their other wines.

Elixir 2020 Bruno Andreu (13% abv): Oak-aged (12 months in new French oak) Roussanne and Viognier (between Béziers and Pézenas) but it's been handled quite subtly, toning down some of the aromatics of these two varieties and turning the wine into something a little different with ever-so lightly toasted hazelnut background notes layered with juicy pear and quince fruit, tasty oatcake flavours too on a rounded finish yet with fresh bitter twist too. Good with smoked trout. €12 France; de Burgh Wine Merchants in Scotland sell a range of his wines but not this one!
Les P'tites Terrasses 2020 Domaine Sibille (50% Viognier & 50% Roussanne; 14% abv): From vineyards in the Minervois area. Described as léger moelleux or slightly sweet - it contains 15 g/l residual sugar but with that high alcohol and fairly low pH giving the wine surprising acidity on the finish - and it's organic. Offers lush late-harvest characters with sweet dried apricot and pineapple fruit, weighty oily mouth-feel with medium-ish finish although some freshness too. Good match for a salmon and vegetable Jalfrezi, and would probably go well with mature, blue or unpasteurised cheeses. €13 France; older vintages in the Netherlands €11.
Petit Marquis de Pennautier Chardonnay Sauvignon Viognier 2020 (12.5% abv): One of a huge yet consistent range of wines produced by the indeed aristocratic Lorgeril family based at a proper-like chateau near Carcassonne, this appealing white combines 60% Chardy with 20% each of the other two varieties. These grapes actually do work together in this juicy ripe wine with pear peach and grapefruit all mixed up. €9 France; Majestic in the UK sells their Chardy - Viognier (without the SB) for £10.

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