Languedoc – L’Aventure Languedoc
Languedoc , including Roussillon, is the largest wine producing region of not only France, but the world. However, only lately have sales of the region’s wines seen an uptick due to the increasingly favorable perception of the region. Though there have always been producers of quality wine here, the majority of wine was often poor plonk, much of it destined for the European wine lake. Now the situation is improving. Growers and winemakers, seeing the implications for them of the growing international wine trade, have started to turn the region around. Languedoc wines are both accessible and good value – key selling points for American wine buyers. To further promote the improved quality of Languedoc AOC wines, CIVL, the trade council representing these wines, is presenting for the first time L’Adventure Languedoc, a series of events for both consumers and the trade across the US. In Boston, the event was held at the Boston Conference Center, a wonderfully refurbished venue at the end of the Boston Fish Pier.
Since I’m a fan of the Piquepol grape, I was more than happy to have the opportunity to taste a variety of offerings from the appellation, Picpoul de Pinet, where the grape plays a starring role. The wines ranged from ultra racy to rich and full-bodied. My favorite of the lot was the 2010 Paul Mas Estates Picpoul de Pinet Grand Vin de Languedoc. In anticipation of summer, we zoomed in on rosés; my favorite the 2011 Château Sainte Eulalie Plaisir d’Eulalie Minervois. As for reds, I favored wines where Syrah was the dominant varietal. I thoroughly enjoyed the 2007 Pierre Gaillard Faugères Transhumance from the noted M. Gaillard, a vigneron based in the Northern Rhone but who now has a domaine in Languedoc. Also outstanding was the 2009 Hecht and Bannier Minervois. Katrin’s top five, in no particular order, were the 2009 Chateau Sainte Eulalie Minervois la Liviniére La Cantilene; the 2010 Paul Mas Estates Picpoul de Pinet Grand Vin de Languedoc; the 2007 Pierre Gaillard Faugères Transhumance; the 2011 Cave de Pomerols 100% Syrah – Sud de France Rosé; the 2011 Castelmaure Corbières Rosé.
Loire – Loire Valley Wines
The Loire Valley is no longer terra incognita to American wine buyers. Wines that have long been popular in France – Loire wines are the mainstay of the cartes de vin in French bistros – are now appreciated here and more easily found than ever. These wines represent a multitude of both white and red varietals and styles – racy or full-bodied whites, light or hearty reds, rosés both dry and off-dry and sparklers. Literally, in the Loire, there is something for every taste.
Like last year, the Loire Valley Wines trade show was held at the EMC Club at Fenway Park. Understandably, the venue competed with the wines, even more so since it was the day before the home opener. Yet, we were able to focus on the task at hand. First off, if ever we regretted not having an importer’s license, it was at this event. Most of the wines had no Massachusetts importers. And since we were merely press, our praise for the participants’ wines was faint indeed. We tasted racy Sauvignon Blancs with wonderful grapefruit zip; an obscure but delicious white varietal – Romorantin; both delicate Pinot Noirs and more robust iterations of this grape; spot-on renditions of Cabernet Franc; and sparkling Cremants de Loire that rivaled some Champagnes. We could taste but couldn’t buy out in the real world and consequently felt that we wouldn’t recommend wines unavailable in Massachusetts. Hopefully, some of these good quality wines found an importer and will be available in the future. At some point, we grabbed a glass of a particularly toothsome Cab Franc to savor and made our way to the outside seats to contemplate the Old Ballyard.
An interesting aspect of the show was the prominence – at least it seemed to us – of off-dry rosés. I initially felt this inclusion was misguided – Americans want dry wines. But do they? With the recent emergence of Muscat/Moscato, perhaps these rosés represent an emerging trend. And frankly, as one who doesn’t fear sugar, I found several quite captivating, perfect summer aperitifs.