There are many familiar French wine regions, but the most exciting are southern France’s Languedoc and Provence. I am consistently impressed with this area’s ability to make unique wines with personality and character at a reasonable price.
Southern France is traditionally known for its simple bulk wine, and not considered among the prestigious reputations of Bordeaux and Burgundy. But because the region has fewer restrictions and its reputation isn’t tied to tradition, winemakers are free to experiment and innovate.
The Languedoc is one of France’s largest growing regions with more than 500,000 acres planted. Provence may be the country’s oldest, with wine being produced in the area for at least 2,600 years. What gives the south of France such potential is the vast amount of complex soils, ideal Mediterranean climate and an open range of grape varieties to explore.
It is one of the world’s blending paradises, with exceptional grapes and an array of choices. The main red and rose wines are blended from syrah, grenache, mourvedre, cinsault and carignan. For whites, there are picpoul, grenache blanc, marsanne, rousanne, viognier and, increasingly, plantings of chenin blanc.
In addition to the traditional grape varieties, we are seeing more and more producers exploring Vin de Pays or country wines. This category benefits the consumers and the wine producers. It gives a consumer clarity with where a wine is produced, giving producers an opportunity to make wines outside the constraints of traditional French Appellation d’Origine Controle law. The most important is the freedom to grow international-favorite varieties such as chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and others.
These are some of my favorites.
- 2015 Jadix Picpoul De Pinet, France (about $13 retail)
- 2015 C’est La Vie Pinot Noir/Syrah, France (about $11 retail)
- 2016 Sables d’Azur Cotes De Provence Rose, France (about $12 retail)
- 2016 Picpoul De Pinet, France (about $12 retail)
- 2015 Domaine Du Tariquet Chardonnay, France (about $15 retail)
- 2016 Whispering Angel Cotes De Provence Rose, France (about $22 retail)