I was recently invited to a tasting of Pays d’Oc wines hosted by Snooth Media’s Editor in Chief Gregory Dal Piaz and Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer. For those of you who are not familiar with the Pays d’Oc region of wine, it is located in the southern region of France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region (Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Hérault, Gard and 6 towns in Lozère). Just to give you an idea, 20,000 winemakers are producing Pays d’Oc IGP wines in 1 out of every 3 acres in the area.
It is quite an unusual wine region which is still in its development stage and where rules are meant to be broken. We were told there are more than 50 different authorized grape varieties. I will be a bit rough and say that the wines we tasted were not what my palate enjoys, but I expect that in a few years there will be some really good juice coming from the area. This area is also great if you are looking for good, inexpensive, drinkable wine. I preferred the reds to the whites, but you should taste them yourself and tell me what you think.
Pays d’Oc runs from the Spanish border to France to the Rhone delta. This means that there are quite a lot of different micro-climates and therefore a lot of different areas suited to all different kind of grapes. There are terraces facing the Mediterranean with mountains, foothills, and the coastal plain.
Its Mediterranean climate is affected by the Atlantic to the west and the continent to the east. This means winds and climate variations which make the grapes suffer (which can only be good for the wine).
There are many kinds of soils including: clay-chalk, limestone, gneiss, schists, and small pieces of gravel on the lower hillsides.
This was a gentle approachable wine. Good for someone just starting to explore. It had notes of pineapple, and touches of candies oranges. There was quite a bit of grass and lime zest. It reminded me of New Zealand. The wine had a nice touch of salinity and high acid.
Vignerons d”alignan du Vent, Cinquante Cinq: Chardonnay 2011
There was tons of lime on the tip of the tongue with this wine. I could have sworn it had no oak, but was told it had a touch of oak. The wine felt a little hot to me (I could sense the alcohol on the nose), but if you are a fan of Chablis and feel like saving a little money, this may be a nice bottle to pick up.
It is so insane when a wine throws you for a loop. This wine was closer to California than to France as a Chardy. It still had a bit of alcohol on the nose, but with some pleasant notes of caramel and toast. It was more round and lush than the previous wine. I’m not normally a fan of oak in my whites, but I kinda liked this wine. It was a pleasant surprise.
Delatour, Cuvee Premier: Grenache Rose 2011
I may not be the best person to speak on an inexpensive rose. I LOVE ROSE! I drink rose wines all year long. This wine was closed on the nose. While it was nice on the initial taste, it fell flat in the mid palate. It had a nice mouth feel. While this would not be my first choice in rose, something tells me that it would be perfect for sipping at a picnic.
Things started looking up with the reds of the region. This red had quite a bit more backbone than any of the whites. There were hints of blueberry, soft tannins and a slightly candied finish. You could feel confident bringing this bottle to a friend’s house as a hostess gift.
I really enjoyed this wine. It was marked by spice and candy. For some reason I started thinking of Twizzlers, but that was not quite it. The wine was juicy with lots of vanilla and blueberries. Delicious and friendly.
Domaine Gayda, Figure Libre “Freestyle”: Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre/Carignan/Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Again, a win with these reds. The nose was perfumed, spicy. The mouth was soft and smooth. It was quite similar to the Jeff Carrel juice. I am not sure which I preferred, but both are welcome at my house at any time.