I stopped off briefly yesterday afternoon at a media and trade tasting here in New York featuring the wines of Languedoc in southern France, the world’s largest wine-growing region. Languedoc is making a concerted effort these days to increase awareness of the region, which, despite its vast size and production, doesn’t enjoy the stature or popularity of many other French wine regions. And yet, the more I taste the wines – at least those being showcased in this country – the more I believe that consumers and the trade should pay more attention to them given their quality and attractive pricing.
At tasting events like this one – there were more than 60 wines being poured – I like to zero in one or two appellations with an eye toward finding a few memorable wines. And so I made my way over to a table featuring the still white wines of Limoux, which is best known for its sparklers (Blanquette de Limoux and Crémant de Limoux). Most of these still wines, which are part of a new Grand Cru level in Languedoc, were chardonnays and reflected a range of styles, from crisply refreshing, lightly oaked examples (my preference) to those with a much more pronounced wood influence that will benefit from some bottle age to bring them into balance.
When I looked up the wines I liked on winesearcher.com, most were under $20 and one was under $10, making them real values given their quality. Alas, availability seemed quite limited for these wines, but hopefully that will begin to change as they become better known. The first wine I tasted was actually not a chardonnay but a chenin blanc, Château Rives-Blanques 2008 “Dédicace,” $17, which was crisp, lemony and refreshing and would be a perfect accompaniment to shellfish. The chardonnays I preferred included a delicious 2008 example from Domaine de Mouscaillo, $22, which was racy with lime and exotic spice notes; Vignerons Sieurs d’Arques’ 2009 Toques et Clochers “Océanique,” $17, which showed citrus, green apple and vanilla notes; and the real bargain of the group, Domaine Astruc’s 2009 “d’A,” a subtle and complex blend of 95 percent chardonnay five percent mauzac, which I found listed for $9.
Selling these largely unfamiliar wines to a broader audience here in this country is going to take some work, but with their quality and attractive prices, the effort should be worthwhile and consumers will be the winners.