Sunny warm weather brings out our natural desire to entertain, and July and August are perfect for al fresco meals.
The wines of France’s Roussillon, Languedoc, and Provence regions offer styles and tastes to suit any gathering.
All three regions produce millions of hectolitres of white, red, sparkling, rose and sweet and wines in a huge number of appellations. Many consumers get lost in the myriad of sub-regions and hardly remember distinguish one from the other. Producers are keenly aware this, and have introduced a new classification, grouping several sub-appellations – the bets are called Grands Cru de Languedoc, the middle section Grands Vins du Languedoc and the rest simply AOC (Appellation d’origine Controlee).
The labels of different appellation bear the above designation for consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions.
You can start an informal dinner by serving a dry Viognier, and follow up with a sublime Minervois red for your grilles lamb chops, or a Corbieres, or a Carignane.
For those who like rose, the wines of Provence fit the bill (L’Amphore de Provence, or Moncigale from Bandol come to mind). They can be enjoyed with pan-fried fish bouillabaisse, or grilled chicken.
If you are serving grilled lamb chops or lamb burgers, try Chamans No. 1 (Syrah/Carignane) from Minervois, or Chateau du Prieure des Morgues from St. Chinian, or Château de Flangergues Cuvee Sommelier from Coteaux du Languedoc. Domaine Sarda- Malet Reserve from Cotes du Roussillon and Domaine De Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem are also very appropriate for grilled, barbecued , or roasted meats.
For those who prefer to drink white wine only, Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet from the winery Jeanjean is recommended. (Picpoul (roughly translated corresponds to “lip stinger) is a grape variety famous for its acidity that makes the wine refreshing.
Roussillon enjoys a mild climate throughout the year and has Catalan characteristics from neighbouring Spain separated by the Pyrenees Mountains.
Here, Grenache (aka Garnacha) thrives, as do Syrah and Moruvedre (aka Monastrell). Garnacha and Monastrell originated in Spain, but have acclimatized in southern France well over centuries.
Languedoc is more influenced by the Rhone region to the east. Syrah and Grenache are popular, but so are Mourvedre and Carignan.
For whites, Picpoul de Pinet, and Chardonnay, even Sauvignon Blanc on high altitude vineyards yield fine wines.
Provence is home to tasty food composed of tomatoes, eggplants, garlic, herbs and Meditereannean fish. Provence is famous for its rose wines derived from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Tibouron. Rose wines from Provence have been made for centuries and go very well with local food specialties. These, consumed chilled on a patio overlooking the azure-blue Mediterranean, give one the feeling of heaven on earth.