At the London International Wine Fair Sud de France were showing their prestige selection of 42 Languedoc-Roussillon wines that are available in the UK. A varied panel of 11 influential names from the UK wine scene made the selection by blind tasting 200 wines presumably submitted by participating distributors. Now 200 different wines sounds and is a lot, but for a start this is a region with over 20 recognised areas plus near infinite Vin de Pays tucked in and between. Multiply this by factors such as red, white, sweet, rosé, aromatic, mineral, oaked, full bodied, fresh, mature - let alone grape varieties - and you get the picture.
The 158 wines that didn't make the selection aren't disclosed but knowing the lists of some of the importers all could equally have made the selection. Either by chance or some judging fine tuning, the 42 do project a diverse but balanced range of styles and a good spread on the map.
I came across the stand late and wished I'd discovered it earlier, so didn't taste them all. Still, my personal highlights and observations were: -
- Plenty of boutique growers were represented alongside some of the big name producer/negociants.
- Four terrific Rivesaltes Ambrés - natural sweet wines usually from Grenache Blanc and/or Macabeu from around Perpignan. Totally underrated wines that are clearly easier to find in UK than much of the Languedoc. Good move to show four to make a point. Surprisingly there was no sweet muscat in the line up.
- Nice to find a couple of cool Orb valley (Bedarieux) masterpieces from Domaine de Clovallon, including the Les Pomarèdes 2008 Pinot Noir.
- Virgile Blanc 2005, Domaine Virgile Joly I'd tasted at Dudley & de Fleury Wines and again showed how brilliantly complex a Languedoc white can be.
- The fresh and vibrant white Mas Bruguière Les Mûriers 2010 has scored twice by also showing at the overlapping London Natural Wine Fair
- I was disappointed with Château de la Negly "La Falaise" 2008, a wine I'd enjoyed in the past but this was too much of an inky blockbuster. Maybe the wine has changed, but more likely my taste has moved on.
- Others I'd put in this category include a 100% Syrah (not sure the excellent spiral bound booklet is accurate on this) 2007 Domus Maximus, Massamier la Mignarde from reputed Minervois la Livinière. Hot, heady and spicy - perhaps aimed at those prepared to lay it down.