South­ern France’s wines ex­cep­tional

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - LORRI HAMBUCHEN Lorri Hambuchen is a mem­ber of London’s In­sti­tute of Wines and Spir­its. Con­tact her at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Lit­tle Rock, Ark. 72203, or email: uncorked@thewine­cen­ter.com

There are many fa­mil­iar French wine re­gions, but the most ex­cit­ing are south­ern France’s Langue­doc and Provence. I am con­sis­tently im­pressed with this area’s abil­ity to make unique wines with per­son­al­ity and char­ac­ter at a rea­son­able price.

South­ern France is tra­di­tion­ally known for its sim­ple bulk wine, and not con­sid­ered among the pres­ti­gious rep­u­ta­tions of Bordeaux and Bur­gundy. But be­cause the re­gion has fewer re­stric­tions and its rep­u­ta­tion isn’t tied to tra­di­tion, wine­mak­ers are free to ex­per­i­ment and in­no­vate.

The Langue­doc is one of France’s largest grow­ing re­gions with more than 500,000 acres planted. Provence may be the coun­try’s old­est, with wine be­ing pro­duced in the area for at least 2,600 years. What gives the south of France such po­ten­tial is the vast amount of com­plex soils, ideal Mediter­ranean cli­mate and an open range of grape va­ri­eties to ex­plore.

It is one of the world’s blend­ing par­adises, with ex­cep­tional grapes and an ar­ray of choices. The main red and rose wines are blended from syrah, grenache, mourve­dre, cin­sault and carig­nan. For whites, there are picpoul, grenache blanc, marsanne, rou­sanne, viog­nier and, in­creas­ingly, plant­ings of chenin blanc.

In ad­di­tion to the tra­di­tional grape va­ri­eties, we are see­ing more and more pro­duc­ers ex­plor­ing Vin de Pays or coun­try wines. This cat­e­gory ben­e­fits the con­sumers and the wine pro­duc­ers. It gives a con­sumer clar­ity with where a wine is pro­duced, giv­ing pro­duc­ers an op­por­tu­nity to make wines out­side the con­straints of tra­di­tional French Ap­pel­la­tion d’Orig­ine Con­t­role law. The most im­por­tant is the free­dom to grow in­ter­na­tional-fa­vorite va­ri­eties such as chardon­nay, mer­lot, caber­net sauvi­gnon, pinot noir and oth­ers.

Th­ese are some of my fa­vorites.

THE VAL­UES

2015 Jadix Picpoul De Pinet, France (about $13 re­tail)

2015 C’est La Vie Pinot Noir/Syrah, France (about $11 re­tail)

2016 Sables d’Azur Cotes De Provence Rose, France (about $12 re­tail)

2016 Picpoul De Pinet, France (about $12 re­tail)

THE SPLURGES

2015 Do­maine Du Tari­quet Chardon­nay, France (about $15 re­tail)

2016 Whis­per­ing An­gel Cotes De Provence Rose, France (about $22 re­tail)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.