John Paul Kaminga
Languedoc & Roussillon: The World's Most Prolific Wine Region
Updated: Feb 25, 2022
Known for everything from crisp cheap whites to rare ancient fortified wines, the Languedoc and Roussillon represent a huge diversity of wine terroirs, grapes and styles. We are just scratching the surface with these featured wines, but we think there's something for everyone here.
Jean Marc Lafage Cotes Catalanes Blanc 'Cote Est' 2018
A lively blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Rolle (aka Vermentino, Pigato, Favorita...), this wine will be our one entry from Roussillon. The greatest wines of Roussillon are almost certainly dense reds, but this easy-going every-day white is perhaps one of the greatest intros a region could ask for. Ebullient and juicy, all about crisp crunchy fruit flavors, this wine is always a wonder for a $12 warm-climate white. We expect it will be a new fave for many.
Les Equilibristes Vin de France 'Second Souffle' 2017
One of our favorite discoveries of 2019, Les Equilibristes (the tightrope walkers) is a young winemaking company that farms their own grapes as well as buying grapes from select growers. In both cases, grapes are grown organically or biodynamically, and every wine is made with minimal intervention in order to emphasize the unique qualities of their sources. This Carignan Blanc comes from a 60 year old vineyard that was at risk of being ripped up. The quality of this wine demonstrates, however, that these rare old Carignan Blanc vines deserve to be saved and treasured. It's only January, but we might argue that this wine will be one of the most distinctive wines you'll taste all year. Subtle at first, it really opens up with air. Notes of white grapefruit, smoke, herbs, apricots, green pears and sea breeze are almost reminiscent of Chablis, but on the palate it is an entirely different animal. Relatively low in acid, it relies on its minerality and subtle bitterness, manifesting in pithy and herbal flavors, for freshness. It is textured and gripping, with weight and richness on the mid-palate. The finish is focused and long, with many cooling herbal nuances and notions of rocks and minerals. Too interesting to pass up, it won't be for everyone, but you should try this.
Le Loup Blanc Vin de France 'Soif' 2018
A blend of organically grown Chenanson, Carignan and Cinsault, the name of this wine, 'Soif,' translates to "thirsty", and really does appear to be designed to slake the parched gullet. Intense plummy and berry flavors combine beautifully with mild herbal and floral notes, while tannins are supple, soft and insignificant, resulting in a truly gulpable red wine. Can't really go wrong with this one, it will have many fans.
Clos Centeilles MInervois 'Carignanissime de Centeilles' 2015
We love (love, love, love) these guys and believe they deserve far more recognition. If these wines were from a famous village in Burgundy, they might be ten times as expensive and much harder to acquire. Instead, they are from the first Languedoc "cru" to be officially recognized by the French government: La Liviniere, of the Minervois appellation. Truly a small region, rather than a proper cru (which would be much smaller), La Liviniere is composed of six villages and 2,700 hectares (only around 400 currently planted), and the certified organic Clos Centeilles is one of its most talented ambassadors. We dabble in the wines of Clos Centeilles all the year round, but we always try to have their Carignanissime around. Carignanissime de Centeilles is made from Carignan vines over 100 years old and every vintage is worth the asking. The 2015 is particularly bold and recently arrived, and we can't wait to pour it for you. Wild and exuberant, with beautiful notes of ripe cherry, blackberry and plum accented by cacao, leather, fennel and violets, the 2015 Carignanissime is a supremely elegant and complex old-vine Carignan. Well worth saving for a few years, it'll just be too tasty for most to hold, but at $17 one could put away a significant stash for short dosh.