I dream of sitting in a café in the south of France enjoying a wonderful glass of French wine with a delicious French meal. Alas, I have not yet been to the South of France. Nestled along the Gulf of Lion in the Mediterranean Sea, Languedoc – Roussillon is magical. Wild and expansive Mediterranean landscapes, gently rolling hills, fresh herbs and grape vines as far as the eye can see. Slower and more rustic than Provence; it is traditionally French. Historical and modern at the same time, this region boasts great sites, adventures, food and wine!
This month’s French Winophiles, created by Confessions of a Culinary Diva, are exploring Languedoc!
Like most of France, Languedoc wines are a patchwork of grapes blended together to craft a beautiful wine. I recently read in D Magazine that the wines of Languedoc are a like a family, each grape variety representing a member of the family, all coming together to form the perfect unit. It was a great metaphor and one I believe is true. The main red grapes of the region (Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre and Carignan) are each able to stand on their own; however, when are blended together they give the wines of Languedoc a depth of smoky, sultry, fruity, earthy, generosity and harmony that are causing the wine world to stop and pay attention to the wines of Languedoc. Gone are the days of Languedoc being known as a region of “bulk” wines; today, if you are not drinking Languedoc wines you are missing out on some of the best quality and value wines in France.
Languedoc is the largest wine region in France. A quarter of all of France’s vineyards, almost 200,000 hectares, are located there. The Mediterranean Sea and the mountainous inland create a variety of climates within the region which allow for a variety of grapes to be cultivated into sparkling wines, dry white wines, full body red wines and delicate Pinot Noirs. Furthermore, grape varietals such as Carignan, Grenache and Syrah have been cultivated for centuries and have old, strong, deep rooted vines. Another great aspect of Languedoc is though it is divided into sub-appellations, these are not prominent or particularly important to know (juxtaposed with Burgundy and Bordeaux) because they are not frequently included on the wine labels.
Through researching wines for this article I found a high quality wine recommended by my friends at Pogo’s Wine and Spirits. It was a delicious Languedoc wine at a great value.
Domaine d’Aupilhac Coteaux de Languedoc Lou Maset 2013: This wine was crafted of 30% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, 10% Alicante Bouchet and 10% Aramon. It poured a soft ruby with violet highlights into the glass. This layered wine began fruit forward with cherries, raspberries, cranberries and pomegranate, then delivered earthy flavors on the back such as green pepper, a hint of chocolate, smoked meats, spices and a damp tobacco leaf finish. It was medium in body yet mouth coating, with round acidity and well integrated tannins, leaving a long, mouth-watering finish. It was rustic yet very smooth and quite pleasing. 13% alcohol. SRP $15.99.
All grapes are harvested by hand, de-stemmed and only indigenous yeast is used. Traditional vinification in stainless steel lasts 10-15 days. Aged for 6 months in oak barrels. All wines are unfiltered.
The winemaker said this wine was ideal with a charcuterie; therefore, I crafted a charcuterie. My charcuterie was comprised of fresh Bresaola, Pancetta, mild Soppressata, and truffled salami with dried apricots and figs, marcona almonds, candied walnuts, Stelton blue cheese, triple cream brie, and a hard Italian white cheese, with L’ Epicurien’s Confit of Figs and Balsamic Vinegar and Williams Pear Confit with White Wine. The blend of the fruitiness and earthiness of the wine was a perfect match with all the offerings in the charcuterie. An ideal pairing for sure on a warm summer’s night for sure!
Three generations of Fadats have farmed the large, eighteen-hectare lieu-dit known as Aupilhac, in the village of Montpeyroux, across the river Hérault from Daumas Gassac and Grange des Pères. While the Fadats have farmed this land since the nineteenth century, and the vineyards date even farther back to the time of the Romans, it was not until 1989 that the current member of the Fadat family, Sylvain, finally registered the domaine as a vigneron indépendant. Aupilhac is a special parcel for many reasons. It sits at a high altitude, nestled below the ruins of the village’s château, at almost 1200 feet above sea level on terraced land with southwest sun exposure. The soils are rich in prehistoric oyster fossils, which lend an incredible length and minerality to the wines. Sylvain is not one to shy away from hard work. In a volcanic amphitheatre comprised of marine fossils and raw limestone, called Cocalières, he has done what few vignerons dare to do nowadays: he’s planted a vineyard on steep, extremely rocky terrain, and terraced the land himself. This is not only an enormous financial investment, but back-breaking work. This was the work done many centuries ago by the founders of France’s great terroirs such as Savennières and Cornas, planting the best and most promising parcels irrespective of time and money.
Sylvain has also elected to have his fruit certified as organic in Europe, a mandatory three-year conversion process. For him, this is a choice both of conscience and pragmatism. He works the soil vigorously by plowing regularly. This forces the roots to dig deeper and deeper in the soil in search of cooler, humid subsoil, which protects the vines from drought and sun. Ultimately, his rationale centers on helping achieve a natural balance. In his words, “We believe that work in the vineyards has far more influence on a wine’s quality than what we do in the cellar.” What happens in the cellars is equally compelling. (See below for more technical information.) Domaine d’Aupilhac’s wines find a terrific balance of ripe fruit and silky tannins, power and grace. When aged, these wines achieve a complexity rarely found in wines sold for many times the price, while their wildness and intensity makes them equally appealing young.
Take a moment to see what other great patchwork wines my fellow French Winophiles discovered:
Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs “Anchoïade + Gerard Bertrand Tautavel”
David from Cooking Chat Food pairs “Salmon with Shiitake Mushrooms Sauce and a Languedoc Red Wine”
Jeff from foodwineclick answers your question “Which Languedoc Wine with Cassoulet?”
Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere pairs “Languedoc Style Olive Tapanade and Côté Mas Wine Pairing”
Wendy from A Day in the Life on a Farm shares “Wine and Cola Braised Beef Shanks with Diamante Des Karantes”
Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva shares “Ribs Languedoc Style with Le p’tit Barriot”
My Song Selection: The Domaine d’Aupilhac Coteaux de Languedoc Lou Maset 2013 was classic, fruity with an earthy, rustic foundation. It was a timeless wine that drank beautifully but will also age well; a real crowd pleaser. I have chosen to pair it with a classic song from Rod Stewart, timeless with a bit of funk, rustic yet classy.
Get your own bottle of Languedoc wine and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!