A WINE SAFARI IN LANGUEDOC: April 2006

Today, the winemakers in the Languedoc-Roussillon have a spirit of adventure, and the region is one of the most innovative and exciting wine producing regions today. Since the Languedoc is only a few hours away, we decided to set out for a weekend visit in April to discover three domains in the area just west of Montpellier -- Our second Wine Safari...

Our first visit was Domaine des Charmettes, situated Marseillan, in the heart of the Languedoc, between Sète and the Cap d'Agde, and just a few minutes from the Etang de Thau and the Mediterranean. This 80 hectare domain is run by a young winemaker who is dedicated to using agricultural methods that respect the environment. This domain produces wines typical of the region, as well as those varieties from the Atlantic.

We tasted several surprising assemblages at this domain, including a white (Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Viognier and Grenache Blanc), and a red (Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah, Grenache). Another unexpected pleasure was the domain's Pinot Noir Rosé, which had a nice clear salmon color, woody aromas, fruity and full-flavored.

Our next visit was to the domaine Preignes le Neuf, a domain that has been in the same family for five generations. Today they produce wines of a single terroir, the Garrigue. We were welcomed by Beatrice, who was more than happy to have us sample each of their wines. Their Red Vin de Pays d’Oc is a complex blend of four grape varieties, Merlot, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvigon, and Syrah. The result is a supple fruity wine that is easy to drink. Their white Vin de Pays d’Oc Chardonnay is a delcious dry white, a pale golden yellow color, and an intense aroma of white flowers.

We found some excellent Rosé wines in this region and the one produced by this domain is no exception. A blend of Grenache and Syrah, this is a deeply colored Rosé with a fresh, fruity aroma and a nicely balanced, fresh flavor of wild raspberries, It is vinified through the « saignée » method, being vinified traditionally in steel vats, but after a few hours of maceration a first juice is extracted « saignée» from the skins before it begins to ferment.

Our last visit was with Gilles and Lisbeth Pourcel of the Domaine Les Peyrilles situated in Florensac, in the southern Herault region between Montpellier and Beziers. The vines of this domain are planted in the clay-chalky Garrigue soil with a full southern exposure, that overlooks the Bassin of Thau and the nearby Mediterranean. This domain produces a number of wines characteristic of the Florensac terroir. The majority of the domaine is composed of the Piquepoule grape variety and classified AOC Picpoul de Pinet.

Their Picpoul de Pinet has a lovely crystal straw yellow color, aromas of verbena, lemon and grilled almond, and the refreshing flavors of candied citrus, and pineapple. This domain also has a delicious, fruity Rosé, a light pink-lilac color, with an intense aromas of wild strawberries and rose, and the flavor of blackand red currant.

If you don’t know the wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, then now is the time to discover them and the region.

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