Midi – France's Southwest Corner.


Midi is a huge stretch of land hugging the Mediterranean shore of France and contains more vineyard acreage than Australia. It is sunny, enjoys an old history of wine culture, has many food specialties, and now wineries that emulate to surpass New World wine producing countries by producing fruit-forward wines from old and proven French grape varieties i.e cabernet sauvignon, merlot, viognier, just to name a few.

Trading Greeks introduced viticulture to the southwestern Gaul and Romans expanded it.

Today, vineyards spread out from the Rhone River delta east and west throughout the entire south of France. The area west of Avignon to the Pyrenee Mountains is referred to as Languedoc et Roussillon, whereas the east, stretching to the Italian border, is called Provence, famous for its rose wines, rice, olive oil and herb-infused stews, and world famous cities of Nice and Cannes where celebrities vacation.

Historically, a source of light, quaffing wines, these vast regions evolved to meet the ever changing demands of both French and international consumers.

Languedoc et Roussillon have an abundance of suitable land, climate, and also young, well educated and enthusiastic winemakers who understand what needs to be done to produce fine wines to titillate the palates of consumers. Of late, even Australian winemakers have been involved in acquiring vineyards and/or helping wineries to produce wine to world standards.

The proximity of Languedoc et Roussillon to the United Kingdom is an important consideration from a cost perspective. Britons drink a lot of red wine and price for the English consumer is an important factor in making purchase decisions, as it is true in most other wine drinking nations.

Languedoc et Roussillon has many regions, some of the most important are: Coteaux de Languedoc, Costieres de Nimes, Minervois, St. Chinian, Pic St. Loup, Cotes du Frontonais, Herault, Cotes du Roussillon, Fitou, Faugeres, Corbiere, and Clairette de Languedoc. The less known regions are: Clairette de Bellegarde, Limoux, Cabardes, Cotes de la Malpere, Frontignan, La Mejanelle and Banyuls.

All of the above used to be VDQS (Vins delimite de qualite superieur) quality regions; now practically all have been elevated to Appellation d’origine controllee. The wines taste infinitely better now as compared to those of two or three decades ago.

Grenache, syrah, mourvedre, carignane, cinsault, merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon are the preferred red grape varieties, whereas bourboulenc, picpoul, grenache blanc, viognier, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc go into white wines and occasionally into red blends to lighten them.

Languedoc et Roussillon wines are reliable, consistent, offer an array of flavour profiles, depth and good value. Top end red wines age well and evolve to outstanding libations.

White wines are made for quick consumption, sparkling to enjoy with friends and family, and dessert wines to cellar for a few years.

Most offer appealing fruit, balance and dept of flavour. The advances made in Languedoc result from better land selection, grape varieties, research conducted in the school of vitiviniculurte in Montpellier, and low yields.

Escalating prices of Bordeaux and Burgundy helped large negociant houses of these regions in the decision to buy vineyards and producing wines, or simply acquiring wine to create their own brands. Today branded Languedoc wines marketed by well-established Bordeaux and Burgundy negociants represent a good portion of French exports and are growing year after year,

Here are some Languedoc wines you may want to try: Chateau Lamarque Cuvee Aegidiane, Costiere de Nimes, composed of syrah and grenache offering deep flavour and hints of black fruit and pepper.

Clos Bagatelle Veille d’Automne, St. Chinan, this small producer blends for this cuvee syrah, mourvedre and carignan to achieve flavours of roasted coffee beans and ripe berries. It ifs full bodied, dark and possesses a long after taste.

Decant before service, or cellar for three to four years. Enjoy with lamb stews, or grilled lamb chops or roasted leg of lamb, or beef stews, or home made grilled hamburgers.

Memoire des Temps Rouge, Cotes de Roussillon, Domaine Ferrer Ribiere – exudes raspberry, blueberry ad cherry aromas with mineral and iron undertones. This is a fine wine to enjoy with hard cheeses, antipasto plates, pate de campagne, pastas with meat sauce, lamb stews, roast beef or beef stews.

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