S & SW France

A maze of terroirs and lends and some truly progressive winemaking

Gruelling vineyard work takes its toll...
Gruelling vineyard work takes its toll...

In the last ten years, France's battle with New World wine for shelf space has been most competitively fought by the Languedoc-Roussillon.

Here in the South of France, growers have adapted to modern trends, producing varietal, fruit- generous wines that seduce new, young consumers. Situated near Pézenas, Domaine Montrose are the ultimate example of the modern Languedoc Estate, producing carefully made varietally-driven wines of charm and personality. From Cabernet/Syrah to Viognier, their wines ooze ripe, juicy fruit flavours whilst retaining a freshness and balance that make them so drinkable. Varietals aside, the Languedoc boasts a whole treasure-trove of interesting, great value wines even at the higher end of the price scale. Each year, the region takes giant strides towards realising the potential of its mosaic of soil types and microclimates. Whilst not yet matched by broad demand in the UK, it cannot be much longer that the sheer quality and personality of the region’s wines goes so unnoticed. There is enormous potential in some of the new sub regions of the Languedoc such as Pic St Loup and Montpeyroux, but it is perhaps the Roussillon that really ignites the senses. Here former French sommelier and journalist Hervé Bizeuil started the revered Clos des Fées vineyard near Vingrau. Blessed with old Grenache and Carignan vines (a large proportion of which are over 70 years old), and with great skill and enthusiasm, Hervé has gained a big reputation amongst those in the restaurant trade and journalists alike. Another fine estate is the joint venture between one of the region’s benchmark producers, Gérard Gauby, and British shipper Richards Walford. Their Le Soula wines are extremely fine terroir-drive examples of Roussillon that boast great finesse and fresh acidities, thanks to the high altitude and decomposed granite and limestone soils of the Agly valley.