One of the most exciting regions in France today is also one of its best value. Once the butt of many French jokes and the source of surplus everyday plonk, the vast swathe of Mediterranean wine-growing country from Montpellier to the Spanish border has more vineyards than Australia and is now showing much potential for its whites as well as reds.
Now dubbed France’s New World, Languedoc is the biggest source of Vin de Pays. With grape varieties named on many labels, it is also an easy region to get to grips with.
I have been very impressed with improvements in quality, thanks to increased investment: focus on planting classic grapes at higher altitude on hillsides inland to benefit from cooler night temperatures, restricted yields concentrating fruit, night-time picking and careful winemaking.
Languedoc whites are not just about chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. There are plenty of lesser known white Rhone grapes including viognier, grenache blanc, roussanne, marsanne, bourboulenc, macabeo, piquepoul, vermentino and muscat. Stylistically they offer the warm ripe fruit of the south (which New World lovers so enjoy) with a minerality, fresh natural acidity and enticing herby undertones from local “garrigue” countryside.
My favourite Languedoc whites such as Deusyls de la Peira Blanc or Soula Blanc are now getting pricey, but there are plenty of new domaines coming on stream offering fantastic value and genuinely characterful wines.
One of the best websites to discover new Languedoc domaines is www.terroirlangue doc.co.uk or alternatively head to La Garrigue restaurant in Edinburgh to sample Languedoc whites served with locally inspired cuisine.
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