Fiona Beckett's recent article on her Wine Naturally blog describes how highly rated London restaurant Hibiscus has launched a new wine list (PDF download here) where some 90% of the wines could be described as "natural wines" - the subject of my previous post on this blog.
What stuck me most on studying it, however, is that more Languedoc-Roussillon wines are listed than Bordeaux - 30 vs 21 including magnums and dessert wines. Even on reds alone its evenly matched at 17 to 18 clarets if one ignores four half-bottles of Bordeaux. Obviously excepting restaurants in these respective wine growing regions I've never seen such a ratio.
On the negative side, UK restaurants invariably offer a Languedoc Vin de Pays d'Oc as their house or entry priced wines and this can only fuel the perception that the region isn't for choosing a better more expensive bottle from. Back in France, a rural restaurant in Normandy recently listed zero L-R wines and on chatting to the owner she commented lovely wines but no customer demand. Back at Hibiscus, the entry price is £26 for a red from the Gard but you could part with £390 for a magnum of “Le Merle aux Alouettes” from Alain Chabanon, a Merlot from near Montpeyroux that pipped Petrus and others in a blind tasting a few years ago.
As the market for natural wines evolves the image of the Languedoc-Roussillon, along with other "country wines" will only benefit although the window of opportunity may be short lived.
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