Languedoc might represent the single greatest source of high quality value wines in the world. This wine region that spans the Mediterranean coast known as Languedoc-Roussillon represents France’s largest wine region, with more than twice as many acres as Bordeaux, and nearly ten times more vineyards than Burgundy. One other key element separating it from those two storied regions is that the Languedoc has less of what can be strict and sometimes limiting regulations on wine production.
The sheer size of the region, and its wildly varied soils, weather and topography mean that you can taste a great range of wine types and styles across the Languedoc.The region has also focused on communicating terroir and cultivating a particular character in the region’s sub AOPs. Places like Faugères, Corbières and Minervois all with their particular ways of doing things, governing both quality and style of these regions within the larger Languedoc. It’s also cultivated a very strong reputation for rosé but in comparison to its famous pink wine producing neighbor in Provence, Languedoc rosé offers similar quality at a tremendous value.
In my humble opinion, it’s a massive mistake to think of rosé as “summer water.” The fact is every day and season needs a fruity, lean wine with lots acid. The autumn is when we start to revert to soups, and heartier meals and it’s an error to see it as exclusively, red wine time. A pink wine is your perfect option for Thanksgiving for example. I always hold onto a few bottles that tend to disappear at the end of summer for holiday meals come November and December.
A French rosé bottled by Long Island winery Maiden + Liberty, demonstrates the international appeal of pink juice from the Languedoc. A blend of the Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre, delivers a pale pink, crisp and fruit forward and perfect for cutting the foggy weather and hearty meals that come with it. This rosé has aromas of wet stone and raspberry and a palate of cut strawberry, rhubarb and even a touch of structure and tannin to hold up against those heavy holiday meals.
Corbières is the largest AOC within the Languedoc wine region, a region that produces more wine than any one region in the world. Corbières reaches from the hills out to the coast and its diversity is a product of that range. Domaine De Fontsainte is near the town of Boutenac, which gets plenty of sunlight, as well as protection from the elements by the nearby Narbonnaise regional park. The five hundred hectare of forest help to moderate the coastal winds.
That a wine like this can exist for $13 is sort of an indictment on expensive wines. The preponderance of the blend is comprised of Carignan, which undergoes carbonic maceration (part of the Domaine’s signature style). The other 40% of the wine is a blend of Grenache and Syrah. And the three are blended together. The region is known for it’s juicy red blends and this wine certainly delivers on that, but the fruity freshness imparted by the Carignan really amplifies this wines aromatic and flavor profiles. The carbonic maceration plays a major role from the wine’s appearance through the palate. Bright purple hues, and aromas of blueberry and early season blackberry highlight a very fruit driven wine. The palate hints at notes of savory garrigue, but the fruit dominates. Flavors of fresh blackberry compote, raspberry and hints of anise and thyme round out this incredible value.
Minervois is another of the Languedoc’s great AOCs producing hearty, earth and mineral driven wines. A blend of the same three grapes as the De Fontsainte with the emphasis placed on Grenache in this case. The wine was fermented in stainless steel to keep the emphasis on the bright fruit, and mineral character. From organic and seventy year old Grenache vines, comes a “vin du plaisir” or wine of pleasure that is truly that. Aromatics of red and black berries, turned earth and savory garrigue. The palate is easy going, with notes of minerality and stone and velvety black fruit, the balance and acidity brighten a nice finish.