Simon Thomson, Managing Director of UK-based Talking Wines Ltd., is on a perpetual quest for good value wines and contributes this article to Vivi’s on his findings in the Languedoc region of France.
Enjoy the Wine Life!
My continuous quest to find interesting good value, quality wine recently led me to the Languedoc region in the south of France. I visited at the invitation of a French wine agent based in Carsassonne who represents a number of independent vineyards in the region. I spent a hectic but very pleasant few days with Jerome driving me from one vineyard to the next. The tasting was non-stop and many of the wines were of excellent quality.
A real find was Domaine Matibat in the Malepère to the west of Carcassonne. The vineyard is at 200m in the hills overlooking the Pyrenees. The Malapère is an area dominated by a few large co-operatives, but there are a few privately owned vineyards. The terroir at Domaine Matibat gives the wines a mineral quality and real depth and complexity. One of the stars of the vineyard is the Chardonnay which has some of the mineral qualities found in Chablis, but without the price tag. The Fûts de Chêne is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in oak for 14 months and compares very favourably to many a Bordeaux at a much higher price.
My next find was Domaine Bergon near Beziers is in the east of the Languedoc. This is a family owned and run vineyard of a larger scale with 400 hectares to work with. The vineyard offers excellent value with a range of varietals and blends. One of their most interesting wines is a Vermentino/Sauvignon blend under their Petit Grains label. For under £5 this fresh, rounded and vibrant wine is a steal.
Over dinner in Carcassonne where I manfully made my way through the local speciality Cassoulet, which is delicious, but a dish requiring great stamina, Jerome explained to me his philosophy and in more pragmatic terms his business objectives. He is only interested in winemakers making wine in the ‘correct way’. This means as little intervention with nature as possible, both in the vineyards and the winery. He is also dedicated to his business, up at 3am checking vineyards are picking their white grapes in the cool of the night. I feel this is a man I can trust and it is reassuring to know that there is someone locally working with the vineyards to ensure quality is maintained.
My final major discovery was in an area between Narbonne and the Mediterranean coast. The Clape Mountains area is one of the best growing areas in the Languedoc. At Domaine Lacquirou they produce some wines of real quality. As the purpose of my trip was to find great value they did not disappoint in the budget category either. Their Quatre Pins AC Coteau du Languedoc is a blend of Syrah, Mouvedre, Cinsaut, Grenache and Carignan. The fruit is wonderful and the Syrah provides just enough spiciness.
So I returned home with some good memories of the region and having satisfied my quest for interesting good value wines. If you look beyond the large co-operatives for the independent producers, there is a wealth of wine-making talent and many treasures to discover.
About the Author
Simon Thomson is Managing Director of Talking Wines Limited, a UK wine merchant specialising in wines from independent wine makers. Simon founded Talking Wines in 2003 after a career spanning customer services and logistics in the mobile phone and electrical industries. His quest to find individual wines from independent vineyards has brought Talking Wines rapid success in the highly competitive UK wine market.
Simon has previously written several articles for the local press in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. Visit Talking Wines for UK-based wine information and small winery gems!
This article is published with the express permission of the author and is copyrighted by the author. The author’s copyrights superceed the Creative Commons copyright that governs the rest of Vivi’s Wine Journal.