At the end of July, I will be going to the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. I was looking into the local wines when I was invited to a tasting and dinner of the wines of the Pays d’Oc, part of that area. The tasting was held at Ai Fiori restaurant in NYC and the speaker was Fred Dexheimer, a Master Sommelier and the spokesperson for Pays d’Oc IGP. I have known Fred for a number of years as a top sommelier and wine consultant. He gave a very interesting and informative talk on the wines and the restaurant and retail business in the US as to the marketing of the wines.
Fred began by saying that there are a range of styles within the Pays d’Oc (IGP denomination). There is a wine for every occasion, for every day, and for every budget. The model was based on California varietal wines and allows for more freedom and creativity. He explained that these wines are outside the constraints of the traditional AOC laws. They are higher permitted yields and more approved grape varieties. The grape variety is on the label. Pay d’Oc vineyards stretch along the Mediterranean Sea and span across 4 departments in the Languedoc- Roussillon Region of France.
The Rosè Wines
Laurent Miquel Père et Fils Cinsault/Syrah Rosè 2012 Pays d’Oc IGP made from 70% Cinsault and 30% Syrah. The grapes come from the family estate near Beziers in the South of France. These two black grapes give the wine an attractive pink color. The soil is clay and limestone and the harvest takes place at night. After the pressing a selection of the juices is made. There is a must clarification at low temperatures followed by temperature-controlled fermentation. The wine is aged on the lees in stainless steel vats, followed by a collage and slight tangential filtration before bottling. This is a fruity wine with refreshing strawberry and blueberry aromas and flavors.
The wine was served with Mediterranean cured sardines, black olive bread, tomato confit, Castelvetrano olives and basil. There were two surprises: the first that a wine priced at $8.99 could be so good and that it went so well with the sardines
L’Ostal Cazes Syrah/Grenach Rosè 2012 made from 50% Syrah and 50% Grenach. The owner of the winery is Jean- Michael Cazes, owner of Château Lynch-Bages in Pauillac. The soil is a mixture of compact limestone and sandstone marl. There is an immediate pressing of the clusters at a low temperature to minimize the extraction of coloring and phenolic compounds. Because of this the wine is very pale in color
I was very impressed with this wine with its subtle fruit aromas and flavors and hints of rose petals and pomegranate. It was an excellent choice to go with the charred razor clams, fennel, chorizo and Manila clam vinaigrette. $12
The White Wines
Les Vignerons d’Alignan Du Vent Cinquante Cinq Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Pays d’Oc IGP 100% Sauvignon Blanc. This is the largest family owned and operated coop in France. Sustainable farming methods are used with no chemical or synthetic treatments. The vines are 15 years old. The bunches are destemmed and crushed and the wine is cold settled into stainless steel tanks. Selected yeasts are used and the wine is fined and filtered. The wine remains on the fine lees for three months. $10.99
Domaine Paul Mas, La Forge Estate Chardonnay 2012 Pays d’Oc IGP 100 Chardonnay from the Languedoc. The vineyards are on limestone and gravel soil. Fred said that the wine has some oak aging but it was very subtle. This is an aromatic wine with tropical fruit flavors with a hint of pineapple and hazelnut. $14
Grange Philippe Vermentino 2011 Pays d’Oc IGP. Made from 100% Vermentino also know as Rolle in Southern France. The terroir is stone, surrounded by garriques (a type of low-soft-leaved scrubland). It is dry poor soil. There is a short cold prefermentation and complete de-stemming, pneumatic pressure followed by a racking of the must at low temperatures for 24 hours. Slow fermentation takes place at low temperatures for 3 weeks. The wine is matured in stainless steel tanks with a stirring of the fine lees. The wine has very nice citrus aromas and flavors with a hint of lemon. $11.99
All the wines went very well with the food and they all were real bargains!