Friday, 2 July 2010

Buying Wine - Languedoc Select Wine Club

When I first heard of the Languedoc Select Wine Club I must admit to being sceptical. For quite a few Euros (price now reduced) you receive a 10% discount at around 60 independent vignerons listed on the web site. Perhaps not quite as beneficial as it sounds as, with a reasonable purchase, vignerons usually throw in a bottle of something you didn’t buy to try anyway. Tastings are also organised where a number of growers bring their wines, something I’ll definitely attend when location and diary permits.

The other week I heard the main man, Colin Trickett, talk about Languedoc Select (as well as other Languedoc wine matters, but I won't diverse). Colin had a career in the wine industry and this seems to give him a refreshing and pragmatic perspective. The idea is to help independent vignerons while encouraging wine lovers to discover how much more character their wines have over what’s available in the supermarkets and co-operatives. There’s also the dimension that wine isn’t anonymous; seeing where it’s made and the people behind it increases understanding and appreciation.

With way over 1000 independents in a region with some 6000 wineries everyone has their favourites, but the Languedoc Select list of 60 growers have passed some very specific criteria. Firstly, they’ve been visited unannounced to ensure a friendly welcome. Tasting facilities need to be available. Coverage across the region is even with a spread of prices for all pockets and occasions. There's also a broad mixture of styles e.g. international vs regional grape varieties. While fun, apparently 200 domaines were visited, all this research involves seriously significant travel costs, something the now reduced to €10 annual membership is unlikely to cover.

As with any list of Languedoc producers there are plenty I’ve never heard of or are just a name. In the Hérault the following Domaines are well worth checking out - Canteperdrix (Gabian), Ollier-Taillefer (Fos, very reliable wines), la Croix Belle (Puissalicon), Jordy (Loiras), Domaine Saint Hilaire (Montagnac, I love their simple Vermentino), Domaine Ribiera (Aspiran), Domaine des Conquêtes (Aniane) and Mas Brunet (Causse de la Selle). Mas Brunet is an established favourite. A bottle of Mas Brunet Cuvée Prestige 2006 red the other evening had savoury red fruits and blackberry plus a hint of sweet leather from some oak. Ripe and mouth filling with some fruit stone grip and showing well. Syrah (75%) with Grenache. A Terrasses du Larzac that could pass as a Pic St Loup. About €13, but 10% less if one joins Languedoc Select and makes a visit. The white is also delicious although a touch too oaked for my taste in some years.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Graham, completely agree with your point about the importance of introducing the face behind the label ("There’s also the dimension that wine isn’t anonymous; seeing where it’s made and the people behind it increases understanding and appreciation"). I always get more from a tasting if the winemaker is present - not because I want to know how they made it (which is the sort of info you could find on their website anyway), but because you get the chance to find out what makes them tick. I hope you'll be able to come to the "Outsiders" Languedoc tasting I'm organising in London in November - we have a great group of people who "get it", some of whom you may know already. Here's some info:!/pages/Outsiders-rocking-the-Languedoc-wine-scene/132255080138560?ref=ts
    Best wishes, Louise