Category Archives: Languedoc

Two 2015 Southern French Rosés

Le Charmel 2015 Cotes de Provence (near Bandol)
30% Syrah, 30% Cinsault, 20% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache, 10% Rolle (Vermentino); 12.5% ABV
imported by Winesellers, Ltd., Niles, IL
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store some weeks ago.  No longer there.

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2015 Pays D’Oc IGP; 13% ABV
by Michel Chapoutier
imported by HB Wine Merchants, NY
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store

When I bought these, they were both new arrivals.  The Bila-Haut is still around, but Le Charmel is long gone, at least from Richmond.  They were both pretty tasty, but I preferred Le Charmel.

Le Charmel was engagingly aromatic of less ripe cantaloupe and mild white flowers.  There was more of this on the palate, with a slightly viscous minerality and a hints of lavender and red berries, and the acid nicely in balance.  The flavor was perhaps a little light for me at first, but after adjusting, I found it a very pleasant and elegant wine.  Interestingly, it contains 10% Rolle (Vermentino), a white grape.

The next day, I liked it better, with the fruit more forward while the wine still retained most of its minerality.  This is an easy Thumbs Up for me.

The Bila-Haut had less of a nose, but showed stronger fruit of strawberry, cherry, and red currant, less minerality, and attention-getting lip-smacking acid and a tang of bitterness.  I found this more flavorful, but less elegant and balanced.  Here is a Wine Enthusiast review of this wine.

The next day, I liked it better, as the wine had smoothed out and integrated, but was still quite tasty.  I’d go with Drinkable for this wine.

Of course, my favorite was a blend of about 1/4 – 1/3 Bila-Haut, the rest Le Charmel.  🙂


2013 Puydeval Red Blend, Pays D’Oc IGP

Pays D’Oc IGP, Langeudoc, France; 14% ABV
$5.99 at the Palo Alto store on November 27th

puydevalThis wine caught my eye with its attractive label and the fact that it contains a healthy dose of Cabernet Franc (which I love). The blend breakdown is 58% Cab Franc, 28% Syrah, and 14% Merlot, from vineyards in the cooler regions of the Languedoc. The wine is aged 10 months in oak (90% French, 10% American) and fermented with native yeasts. The tech sheet for the wine can be found here.

A brief web search showed this wine has a pretty loyal following and routinely scores in the high 80’s to low 90’s from major wine publications so I was excited to try it. The wine pours an opaque, deep red, and on the nose I got some blackberry and plum as well as some barrel spice and just a hint of savoriness (I’m guessing from the Syrah). There was definitely some heat as well, but that blew off after about 30 minutes.

On the palate I got dark red fruit with absolutely no vegetal notes that can be so prevalent in Cab Franc. Definitely a fruit forward wine, more in a new world style, but still with some pleasant earthiness to keep it rooted in France. Well integrated oak and pleasantly drying tannins with enough acidity and lift to keep it fresh. It shows it’s stuff best after about an hour and a half, and was fantastic with both a beef stew the first night and hearty minestrone the second night. A repeat buy and a thumbs up for me.

[ed. note: Please welcome frequent commenter DavidLikesWine to the front page.]

“Cuvée Darius” 2013 Fitou

Appellation Fitou Protégée, France
40% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 30% Syrah; 13% ABV
$6 on 4 July

CuveeDarius_2013_FitouThe Wikipedia entry on Fitou wine says that any Fitou AOC wine is required to be at least 40% Carignan.  This wine is clearly not AOC and has no Carignan, so it seems likely of a lesser designation.  Still, I hoped it would be a satisfying wine given how rarely southern French appellations show up at the GO.  I found it lighter-bodied, but pretty tasty.

As per my usual, I thought it needed about 1.5 – 2 hours in a decanter to open up, and it kept improving from there.  It showed the ripe, tangy, earthy / funky style I adore, pleasantly complex if hardly overpowering: black and red raspberry, purple grape, blackberry, funky black earth, slight roses close to the acid, in the finish some woody / earthy complexity / richness.  The GO “Elsewhere” price for this wine is $20, but I cannot believe this wine ever sold for $20.  It’s just not that substantial.  Online prices I found were $8.  It’s still a pretty tasty wine for $6, but it would be a better bargain for $5.

The next day, the second half, stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air, was more soft and rich, slightly redder and more acid, less overtly complex.  It was still yummy but, especially toward the end, seemed to be falling apart.  Overall, it’s probably better on the first day.

As a word of warning, JoelA wrote about this wine:

Had somewhat high (well, medium-high) hopes for this wine, a GSM (40/30/30) blend from one of the older appellations in the Languedoc (southern France) area.
Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver. On opening, a dark purple color, very fruity entry with significant tannin (it’s young, after all). But the wine quickly faded, to the point that the same evening it could easily be drunk with some broiled trout, and the next day was pretty flaccid.

This was a bit different from my experience, so there may be some bottle variation.

Jardin des Charmes 2015 rosé

Coteaux de Béziers Indication Géographique Protégée, Languedoc, southern France
70% Cinsault, 30% Grenache; 12.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 29 June

JardinDesCharmes_2015_roseThis wine looked lovely and is from the current vintage, so I had to try it.  Compared to the also-current Chateau La Sauvageonne rosé, this wine is more austere and structured, but also delicious.

The wine shows flavors of medium-ripe pink grapefruit, a little tangerine / quince, less ripe white melon, hint of lavender / jasmine, with slight skin bitterness and minerality, and crisp acid.  Some red berries and yellow apple come out more as it warms.

None of my bottle survived until the next day, but I expect it would follow the usual pattern: fruit more forward and integrated, less minerality and complexity, still quite tasty.

Chateau La Sauvageonne 2014 rosé

50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah; rubber-sealed glass stopper; 13% ABV
Coteaux de Languedoc, France
from Gerard Bertrand
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 24 June

Bertrand_2014_ChLaSauvageonneRoseI immediately got a bottle of this wine, with its lovely presentation and southern French origin.  IMO, this is what rosé’s about.

Its delicate nose is equal parts cantaloupe, tangerine, pink peach.  It has delicate flavors of these on the palate, with some red cherry and tart redcurrant acid, slight lavender, and perhaps a little yellow apple.  Despite the delicate flavors, the mouthfeel is thicker, with a minerally character.  This is a little more expensive for a GO rosé, but IMO worth the price.  Still, I would guess from the slight aggressiveness to the acid that it’s not one to keep around, so drink up.

The notes from the link above are, “The bouquet offers up intense aromas of red fruit, blackcurrant and redcurrant as well as floral elements (violet and rose) and citrus notes (grapefruit). This wine has a delicate oaked dimension, developing into vanilla and gingerbread notes. Fresh, rich and unctuous on the palate.”  It didn’t occur to me, but I second the “vanilla and gingerbread notes”.

On the second day, the wine was at least as good, with the fruit more forward and integrated, showing a juicy pink grapefruit and yellow apple more prominently.  As it warmed, it was more sweet than on the first night.

Apparently from the label, the translation of “La Sauvageonne” is “wild woman,” but I’m guessing that “wild” means less “unhibited / crazy” and more “living in nature, outside civilization” in a Rousseau-esque sort of way.  (The left side of the label features an embossed naked woman with long hair and a horse.)


Cameron Hughes “Lot 373” 2011 Meritage

IGP Pays D’Oc, France
63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 18% Malbec; 13.5% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 1 July

CamHughes_2011_MeritagePaysDOcThis is one of those rare wines for which I advise, “Pop and pour!”  I decanted it and tasted it after 30 minutses, when it showed delicious ripe fruit of dark red / purple cherry, blackberry / mulberry, dark earth, and at times only a hint of green bell pepper.  This wine, although made from traditional Bordeaux grape varietals, is apparently not from Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast, but from the Languedoc on the Mediterranean coast.  I’d say that, even though this wine is French, much like the Cameron Hughes Crozes-Hermitage that arrived at the same time, it tastes very Californian.  Unfortunately, over a couple hours, the flavors simplified, becoming more red, including red cherry / ripe red currant,  showing stronger sweet vanilla, with the green bell pepper completely vanishing.  This wine would be a good candidate, not only for not airing, but also for not decanting.  I guess I have to go with Drinkable, although this would be a great wine for parties, dinner or otherwise, where it will be appreciated right after opening and consumed quickly.

The next day, the second half (stored in a 375ml screw-cap bottle with very little air) was more durable.  redder fruit, still ripe and jammy, spiced earth, still yummy and modestly complex.

Domaine Haut-Blanville 2011 Peyrals Blanc

Vin de Pays de la Vicomté d’Aumelas, Languedoc, France; 13% ABV
imported by Global Wine Co., San Rafael, CA
$4 at the Oakland, CA, store on 7 July

HautBlanville_2011_PeyralsBlancThis wine is one of a bunch that came in to the Oakland store from Global Wine Company imports.  It is currently listed for $10 for Williams-Sonoma wine club members. Their web site states:

This blend comes from Château Haut-Blanville, an estate not far from the coast, near Montpellier. Parisians Bernard and Beatrice Nivollet bought the property in 1997 and completely renovated it. Haut-Blanville’s vines are planted on several terroirs; Les Peyrals is on chalky, pebbly ground on a plateau overlooking the Mediterranean. A variety of flora surrounds the vineyard, including fig, pine and olive trees as well as wild-growing herbs like thyme, rosemary and savory. A mineral-tinged Grenache Blanc makes a base for this compelling white, with Chardonnay offering body and suppleness and Sauvignon Blanc providing aromatics.

I think it’s a pleasant and quite nice wine for $4 at the GO.

At first opening, this wine seemed rather thin, tart, and minerally.  With a little time, this opened to a modestly elegant wine showing medium-intense flavors of yellow melon / slight honeysuckle, lemon, austere white peach with some pit bitterness, and still some minerality.  It’s neither tremendously compelling nor just a totally simple quaffer, but rather an easy drink that has some complexity if you’re interested in paying attention.

The next day, I think what it might have lost in elegance is easily made up for in fruit-forwardness and more overt complexity.  Maybe less elegant, but more yummy!

Gérard Bertrand 2009 La Clape “Grand Terroir”

50% Syrah, 35% Carignan, and 15% Mourvèdre; 14% ABV
Appellation Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape Protégée, France
$5 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 25 Feb

Bertrand_2009_LaClapeAfter happily going through a number of bottles of the Bertrand 2008 Tautavel, especially over the holidays, I eagerly grabbed this bottle.  It’s different, but also pretty good.

This wine is not as rich as the 2008 Tautavel, but it is perhaps more complex, and definitely more French in style.  It was tasty from first pour, but a bit restrained at first.  It opened up nicely after about 75 minutes in a decanter, giving ripe, tangy flavors of purple / red plum, black cherry, black and red raspberries, perhaps a little violets / roses, and, throughout, the French sort of gamey, earthy funk that I love.  Overall, I didn’t like this as well as I did the Tautavel (this wine is a dollar less), but it’s a nice wine for casual drinking, especially if you are also fond of distinctively French wine.

The next day, the second half (stored in a 375ml bottle and stoppered with very little air) was a little redder and more acid than the first half, but still quite tasty, especially with food.  However, I preferred it on the first night.

2011 Piggy Bank Grenache, Languedoc, France $4.99

Silverdale, WA    14% alc.    (Purchased on 8/29/14)

I initially passed this wine by because I wasn’t particularly enamored of the name or label.  But I’m glad that I decided to give it a try because it’s very flavorful and delicious for a Pays D’Oc.  And I like what these folks are doing regarding charities.  Check out their website here.

IMG_1677Mostly clear and very pretty deep ruby color with pink rim.  Fruity raspberry aromas when first poured, but the wine opens considerably after 30-40 minutes and shows both green and black peppercorn along with red raspberry jam.  Tastes just lightly sweet on the front of the tongue, but dries out quickly from mid-palate through the finish.  Just the right acidity balances everything out and the tannins are restrained, yet add body and texture, particularly in the finish.  Flavors show raspberry, strawberry and a little ripe cherry, while the pepperry qualities fade to the background.  Very tasty and the slightly higher acidity should make it a great food wine.  We found that it went extremely well with pan sauteed Copper River salmon with butter and onions.  It didn’t overpower the fish and the acidity cut right through the butter.  I like it.

Château Grand Corbier 2012 Minervois

Minervois, France; imported by A W Direct; what % ABV
$6 at the Oakland, CA, store on 10 Jan

2012_ChGrandCorbier_MinervoisI didn’t like the 2010 bottling of this wine, and this one has been around at least since the November sale last year.  However, interesting offerings had been a little slow in the new year, and I seem to recall someone recommending this to me.  Whoever it might have been, he or she was right.  This is decent wine for the money.

After about 1 to 1.5 hours of air in a half-empty bottle, it shows intense dark purple / black fruit of black cherry, blackberry, dark aromatic spice (perhaps some licorice) and black earth, in a medium body, with a lightly tannic finish.

The second half bottle, stored in a 375ml bottle with a stopper and very little air, was smoother and lighter purple, with flavors of tangy black and red cherries, dark mulberry, and aromatic spice that is not quite so blackened.  Although it’s not a “must have,” it’s still pretty good for the price, especially if you share my taste for southern French wines.  (I’m guessing by the flavors that this is made from mostly Grenache and Syrah.)