Friday, 25 November 2011


This figures came my way earlier in the week:

Compare 1980 with 2010:

Thirty years ago there were seven appellations, Fitou, Blanquette de Limoux, Clairette du Languedoc, and the Muscats of Frontignan, Mireval, Lunel and St. Jean de Minervois – now there are 21, or even more if you count each colour as an appellation.

And look how the cooperatives have changed:

In 1980 there were 550 coops, which produced 32 million hectolitres of wine.
In 2010 240 coops produced 12 million hectolitres.

In both instances they account for 70% of the wine production of the Languedoc.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


This is an attempt, probably a vain attempt, to throw some light on the fluctuating classification system of the Languedoc

The INAO, the organisation that decides such matters, has said Non; the Languedoc’s aspirations to some wines of grand cru status are premature. Even though it originally made positive noises when the idea was first mooted. And it does not mean that the idea has been completely shelved. However, crus are fine, and there are indeed four existing Crus du Languedoc, namely Minervois la Livinière, Corbières Boutenac, St. Chinian Berlou and St. Chinian Roquebrun.

Other areas of the Languedoc have already asked for Cru du Languedoc status. La Clape and Pic St. Loup should be recognised as such very shortly, maybe within the next month or so. Others that were also in line for potential Grand Cru status are applying for Cru du Languedoc status, namely Montpeyroux, Saint Georges d’Orques, Saint Drézery, Grès de Montpellier, Terrasses du Larzac, Pézenas and Limoux Blanc. There are various technical and economic criteria that have to be met. This is the reason why Faugères is not on the list. Its cooperative is responsible for a large percentage of the production, with the result that the average retail price is lower than that considered desirable for a cru.

Meanwhile the following are currently recognised as Grand Vin du Languedoc:

- Minervois
- Corbières
- Saint Chinian
- Faugères*
- Cabardès
- Limoux *
- La Clape*
Picpoul de Pinet
- Pic Saint Loup*
- Terrasses du Larzac*
- Grès de Montpellier*
- Pézenas*
- Montpeyroux*
- La Méjanelle
- Saint Georges d’Orques*
- Saint Drézery *
- Saint Christol
- Quatourze
- Sommières

I have my good friend Christine, who works for the CIVL (Comité Interprofessionel des Vins du Languedoc) to thank for that list. She hopes she has not missed anyone out!

And the observant amongst you will have noticed an asterisk or two. Christine tells me that they are creating a new marketing status, between Grand Vin du Languedoc and Cru du Languedoc, namely Terroir d’exception du Languedoc. The asterisked areas have applied for that and will able to use the term to communicate about their area, but you will not see Terroir d’exception on a label.

I do hope you are still with me……. Really what it comes down to is that French appellations are very class conscious and like to put everything in an ordered hierarchy, which the hapless consumer does not always follow ……. My drinking decisions are based on the reputation of an estate, and maybe an area, but quite frankly whether it is a cru or a grand vin, is pretty irrelevant. Some of the most delicious wines of the Languedoc are Vins de Pays, Ooops, I mean IGP, or even Vin de France.

And another change – the appellation of Coteaux du Languedoc was set to disappear in April 2012, but it has now been given a stay of execution until May 2017.

Monday, 7 November 2011


Another new tasting caveau, this time at Notre Dame de Mougères. And as well as wine, you can buy delicious local honeys and various other flavours of the region. The vineyards, 32 hectares, outside Caux, belong to the sisters of the Chartreuse and the wine estate is run by Nicolas de St. Exupéry whose family also own Domaine Pech Céleyran in La Clape. There are family connections with Toulouse Lautrec and with Antoine de St. Exupéry, the author of Le Petit Prince.

Unusually for a Languedoc estate, they produce more white than red wine, with six different whites. I’ve always like their fresh pithy Muscat, which is a favourite in our village, but sadly they were sold out, and of the Sauvignon too.

So we tasted:
2010 Vermentino, Pays d’Oc – 5.00€
Quite rounded with a bit of acidity, and some fruit, but lacks the vivacity I normally associate with Vermentino

2010 Macabeo, Pays d’Oc – 5.00€
Quite rounded and pithy with some fruit and body on the palate. Quite satisfying, with some weight. A pure Macabeo is pretty unusual; it is usually part of a blend, but apparently a pure Macabeo is traditional to the estate.

2010 Le Pèlerin, Vin de Pays de Caux – 4.00€
A blend of Sauvignon and Vermentino. Some pithy Sauvignon fruit on the nose, which also dominates the palate. A touch of residual sugar on the finish. I almost thought that there was a hint of Muscat in the wine, but I was told not.

2009 Clos de l’Abbaye blanc, Pays d’Oc – 9.00€
Vermentino vinified in vat and given twelve months ageing in oak. A touch of oak on the nose and more so on the palate. Quite buttery and with notes of bananas. Will the oak fade with time? Quite a long finish.

2010 le Pèlerin Rose Vin de Pays de Caux - 4.00€
Cinsaut and Grenache – pressed. Pretty delicate colour, dry fresh fruit on the nose. Quite a crisp palate with some hints of ripe strawberry fruit.

2009 Languedoc Pérennité Rosé - 6.00€
Pure Mourvèdre. Saigné and fermented in vat. Light colour. A firmer, more vinous palate. More rounded with good acidity. Fresher than I would have expected from a 2009.

2010 le Pèlerin rouge, Vin de Pays de Caux - 4.00€
A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Merlot. Medium colour; quite a stalky nose. And quite a firm palate, with some fruit. Fairly simple and one dimensional.

2009 Pérennité, Languedoc. 6.00€
A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Medium colour; quite firm fruit, with a peppery note and some spice, and a tannic streak. Dry spice on the finish.

2009 Clos de l’Abbaye rouge – 9.00€
A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and aged I oak. Quite a firm nose, and a touch of oak on the palate. Quite a rounded palate with fruit and tannins. Still quite youthful, but the oak is well-integrated. A winter wine, or more poetically in French, un vin du coin de la cheminée.

The church, which was built in 1794, is open to visitors – it has lovely simple lines in cool grey stone, and the sisters sing Vespers, that anyone may attend, usually at about 5.15 p.m. most afternoons.