From ubiquitous swill to glorious monuments of the grape, the Languedoc-Roussillon region is the birthplace of more wine than anywhere else in the world.
Chateau Rives-Blanques 'Occitania' 2016 The whole stable at Rives-Blanques is worth checking out. Their sparkling wines are outstanding in a region well known for its bubbles, Limoux, while their still wines make a mockery of more expensive bottles from further north... you gotta get to know these guys, your wallet will thank you. Their Occitania is quite uniquely 'Limoux'; it is a mono-varietal Mauzac, the iconic grape of Limoux which has flourished in the region for over 600 years. In 2016 the vineyards used for Occitania were harvested on the late side, October 10 and 11, yet this wine is all about freshness and elegance. Notes of apple, citrus, honey, herbs and spice combine beautifully on the nose, while the finish builds to a crescendo of refreshing acids and significant grip and texture. It comes very highly recommended to fans of fine Chenin Blanc. Chateau de Flaugergues 'Cuvee Sommeliere' 2016 This wine may not be new to you. For at least a decade, it has been one of the best values around. Regardless of vintage, Chateau de Flaugergues' Cuvee Sommeliere is always dark, full and ripe, as well as pretty much impossible to beat in its price range. The 2016 is quite possibly the best we've ever tasted, combining the best of warm and cool vintages for a wine that is full of dark flavors but never heavy or sticky. Firmly in the 'modern' style, though not oaky nor over-ripe, one should not look for 'funk' here -- rather notes of plums, berries, fruit compotes, herbs and spices, with soft tannins, plush texture and juiciness through the finish. Polish is the name of the game, and at this level, nobody plays it better. Domaine Rimbert St. Chinian AOC 'Berlou' 2014 Jean-Marie Rimbert managed the vineyards at Chateau de Flaugergues before saving up enough to buy his own land in the highly esteemed St. Chinian AOC. The vineyards of Berlou are the highest of the appellation, as well as the only spot where soils are rich with schiste. In 2014, Rimbert's Berlou is maginificent: the cool vintage imparting an aromatic complexity and inherent elegance that could not happen with a warmer year. Funk is in force here, with tons of earthy, meaty, herbal and umami tones backing up flowers and berries. Ripe fruit makes a grand appearance on the open-knit and juicy palate, while the finish sums it all up with an epic battle between sweet and savory notes. This will be something to serve with a long-braised shank of meat or vegetarian fair featuring rich dark fermented flavors like Chinese black beans.
Clos Marie Pic St Loup 'Metaires du Clos' 2013
This wine was one of the best we tried from all of southern France in 2018. It had a bit of an advantage in that most current releases were not from 2013, an amazing vintage for Languedoc, but then one should consider that this wine is a baby, still not showing much development and worth saving for at least another 5 years. Black raspberry flavors are pure and precise, while notions of red raspberries, plums and blood oranges whirl about next to intense earthiness and umami flavors like olives, herbs, flowers and cured meat. It is very low in alcohol for a serious Languedoc red (13.5%) but it has huge impact on the palate, with fine tannins and fresh acids carrying tons of flavor through the rich and layered finish. One might say its flavors and style put it somewhere between Northern Rhone and Southern Rhone, but it really has its own thing going on. You kinda need to taste this wine, it's an eye-opener, and considering it's one of the very best of the region, it is a great value.