Firstly, many apologies to my regular readers for completely neglecting my blog for past few weeks. My excuse was my end of November deadline for my own book, The wines of the Languedoc, which is planned for publication on 22nd March.
Meanwhile Paul Strang has brought out a completely new edition of a book he first wrote in 2002, Languedoc Roussillon, the Wines and Winemakers. Jason Shenai is the photographer, as he was for Paul’s earlier book, and the new book is a visual delight. I first enjoyed the humorous contrast between the inside front and back covers – you will have to look at the book yourself to see what I mean. Throughout the book Jason has very effectively captured the expressions of the various vignerons, the wry smile of Thierry Navarre; the sensitivity of Marion Gallet of Roc des Anges; the vivacious intensity of Katie Jones of Domaine Jones. There are some magical landscapes, one taken near my Languedoc village of Roujan – I would like to know exactly where, and where did Jason find that particular dry-stone wall of schist in Faugères?
As well as a brief introduction to each area, covering the basics of the various appellations, there is also a succinct history of the Languedoc and details about practices in the vineyard and cellar and a summary of the most commonly found grape varieties.
However, the real nub of the book is all the information about the various producers. Paul’s blurb boasts more than 670 growers, who are arranged by appellation and area. For some he has written small profiles, giving an approximate price point for each wine that is mentioned, as well as an overall star rating for the estate, whereas for others there are just the contact details and a rating. I am full of admiration for all that attention to detail. As with any selection, it is always interesting to see who is included and who is omitted. Inevitably I thought: where is so and so? Or who are they? as I did for Muscat de Lunel, for example. Château Grès Saint Paul, as the oldest estate, deserves its place; Domaine de la Croix Saint-Roch is a name that is completely new to me, but where is the most important estate of the appellation, Domaine le Clos de Bellevue? Inevitably with so many growers, it is impossible to keep tabs on everyone – Domaine Plan de l’Homme in the Terrasses du Larzac has been sold to les Grands Chais de France; Domaine la Croix Vanel in Caux is now owned by Marc-Olivier Bertrand and Faugères has only had one cooperative since 2010.
But those are niggles. There is no doubt that this is a very useful addition to our wine book shelves. I am planning to explore Roussillon in more detail and I shall certainly be consulting it to see who I should be going to visit, with the help of some excellent maps, that show very clearly who is where. Paul and I agreed very amicably that our two books will compliment each other perfectly, and you will just have to wait until 22nd March to see how
Softback available from Amazon for £35.00