3 Words for Languedoc IGP Wines: Diversity, Innovation & Quality!

3 words for Languedoc IGP wines: Diversity, Innovation & Quality!
Languedoc Landscape

Languedoc Landscape
Photo courtesy of Westbury Communications

It’s not news that the Languedoc region of Southern France is no longer a place to dismiss for their bulk wine and mass production. In fact now, I consider it to be one of the most exciting regions in France, if not the world.

And why is that?  Three simple words: Diversity, Innovation and Quality!

Diversity

Unlike many regions in France that only grow a few grape varieties (usually as designated by law), the Languedoc-Roussillon region has carte blanche (almost!) to do as they please.  This makes for happy winemakers who get to experiment and work with different grapes, all sorts of blending and varied winemaking techniques – the results of which are top quality wines that are beginning, finally, to get noticed.

Wines from the Languedoc, designated as IGP, are often blends as they are allowed to use different expressions of the same grape variety from the best pockets of vineyard around the region to create a superlative wine.

Single varietals like Grenache Blanc, which has always been seen only as a workhorse grape and used exclusively for blending, are now shining in their own right.

And the grape variety is listed on the label (most of the time), which is a nice change to the confusing French custom of listing solely the region and expecting us all to know the grape variety.

Take Mas des Dames Blanc 2011 for example.  This is 100% Grenache made by Lidewij van Wilgen, a Dutch woman who came to the Languedoc not that long ago and from inauspicious beginnings, has been able to produce an attention-grabbing wine. Certified organic from low yielding vines and aged in oak for six months, this wine is anything but boring.  Round and medium-bodied with a level of acidity not usually seen from the low-acid Grenache Blanc, this is great as an aperitif or with a light dish.

Photo courtesy of Westbury Communications

Photo courtesy of Westbury Communications

Innovation

Eager, passionate, fearless and gifted winemakers are flocking to the garrigue covered limestone hills to create their masterpieces in this open atmosphere of originality.  And while nothing is perfect, we are seeing much more trial and success than trial and error in the overall results.

A soft, elegant, structured 100% Petit Verdot like the 2011Pure’ from Domaine de Brau can sit right next to a ripe, Aussie-style GSM, Le Grand Noir 2010 – such is the scope of this region and the creative minds behind the wines.

Photo courtesy of Westbury Communications

Photo courtesy of Westbury Communications

Quality

It speaks for itself when you taste the wines, but there is no denying the huge increase in the level of quality this area is producing. The wines are popping up as winners on more and more lists – like the Domaine de L’Aigle Chardonnay from Gérard Bertrand being #66 on Oz Clarke’s Top 250 Wines for 2013 and the Domaine Les Yeuses ‘Les Epices’ Syrah 2010 which won the Gold medal at the 2012 International Wine Challenge as well as the Trophy for two categories: French IGP and French Syrah.

These wines are all classified as ‘Pays d’Oc’ or ‘IGP’ which are the new designations replacing ‘Vin de Pays’. These new titles come with regulations that are far less stringent than in other areas of France allowing for winemaker creativity to win out over conservative legislation.

One day I’ll visit and bring you back some videos with a first-hand glimpse into this established yet up-and-coming region, but in the meantime, please begin your own exploration with a visit to the Languedoc-Roussillon section of your favourite wine shop and see what surprises your choice of IGP wines has for you.

Here’s to trying something new, learning something new and enjoying every glass a whole lot more!

Tara – Wine Passionista

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