Read all my Bristol Wine Blogs on winetalksandtastings.wordpress. The latest one is below: The Most Improved Wine Region Of all the regions of the wine world, perhaps the one that has improved the most over the time I’ve been enjoying wine is the South of France. The change started more than 30 years ago with the introduction of the Vin de Pays scheme (now Indication Géographique Protégée, IGP to its friends) – a largely successful attempt to eliminate the vast quantities of very basic table wines like the ‘Gros Rouges’ (literally ‘fat reds’) being produced at the time. And that came as a nasty shock to many of the producers of Appellation Contrôlée (AC) wines who took their position at the head of the French wine market for granted; so long as they used the famous names on their labels, sales were guaranteed, whatever the quality. The challenge from the Vins de Pays meant a re-think was needed and nowhere was this more obvious than among the diverse ACs of the south of France. One of the best known of these is Corbières, most famous for its red wines, but also producing a little white and even some rosé. I tasted one of the whites recently: the Roque Sestière Corbières Blanc (great value from the Wine Society at £9.50) wasn’t overtly fruity but filled the mouth with delightful rich, herby flavours; a real food wine – I’d suggest fish or chicken cooked in a Mediterranean influenced style: herbs, garlic, tomatoes and the like. (We had sea bass with puy lentils, thyme and garlic). As with most southern French wines, this was a blend of grapes, in fact, 5 different varieties. The most prominent was the normally unexciting Macabeo (perhaps better known as Viura, a key element in white Rioja). Bourboulenc and Grenache Blanc, two other common local grapes, also featured, along with two varieties I’m very keen on: Vermentino and Roussanne. Together they made an interesting combination, but there’s another clue to this wine’s quality and flavour on the label: the words “Vieilles Vignes” (old vines). Although there’s no legal definition about how old a vine has to be before it qualifies for Vieilles Vignes status, as vines age, their root structure expands but they produce fewer bunches. The effect of this is that more nutrition is feeding fewer grapes and so each develops more intensity of flavour and, potentially, produces better wine. I certainly think that’s true here and it’s a great example of just how far southern French wines have advanced in little more than a generation.
Posted on: Tue, 20 Aug 2013 08:01:27 +0000
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