Some of the best wine values in the world are coming from the south of France in the often-overlooked area of the Languedoc. While Bordeaux and Burgundy get all the glory (and stunningly high prices), the Languedoc is quietly making some of the most voluptuous wines at fair prices.
The Languedoc covers an area roughly from Provence to the Spanish border along the Mediterranean coastline. Almost one-third of France’s vineyards are in this area, and over the past 20 years, changed their philosophy from “quantity to quality.” The Mediterranean-influenced climate — along with improved winemaking techniques and stylistic diversity — have made the Languedoc the bargain basket of France.
The 2009 Chateau Puech-Haut Prestige got a tremendous amount of attention when influential wine critic Robert Parker posted on his website that this was one of the greatest values under $20 he has tasted. The Puech-Haut (Poosh-Oh) is a massive but well-balanced red wine with a blend of 55 percent Grenache and 45 percent Syrah, and completely aged in cement vats. Smells like Provence on the nose with hints of lavender and fresh cut flowers mixed with rich dark fruits. A perfect match with spring lamb with Herbes de Provence crust.
One of the best white wines I’ve tasted this year also is a Languedoc wine from Nimes. The 2009 Cercius Cotes du Rhone Blanc from Michel Gassier is a unique and refreshing white made from 70 percent Grenache Blanc and 30 percent Sauvignon Blanc. The Cercius (named after the mistral winds of Provence) also sees no oak and has a beautiful lemon and melon characteristic, lively acidity and an intense finish. This would be great with local shrimp with parsley and shallot butter.
The Languedoc is a region wine lovers need to get to know. The wines not only pack a lot of bang for the buck, but also have a sense of place and being. The Puech-Haut Prestige ($19.99, 93 Parker) and the Cercius Blanc ($13.49, 90 Parker) are both available in our Wine Shoppe. Come on down, and get a taste of the South of France.
2009 Chateau Puech-Haut Prestige, $19.99, left, and 2009 Cercius Cotes du Rhone Blanc, $13.49. Both Languedoc wines are available at the Wine Shoppe in Seville Quarter. /
Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St., Pensacola. 434-6211, or visit www.sevillequarter.com.