To have a wine presentation around a potluck lunch is a wonderful idea. It embodies the generosity of wine and food and it permits you to exploy a wide range of gastronomic plates in a single setting. With this setting in mind, I recently attended a press tasting of Languedoc wines led by Christine Molines, marketing director of Languedoc wines in collaboration with Ateliers & Saveurs.
Hard to resist the invitation, since I love Potlucks but also this French wine region holds a special place in my heart. It was in the Languedoc that I started my early days of French wine drinking.
For me the Languedoc is the ultimate wine potluck. The region boast 23 AOPs and 22 IGPs. There are over twenty grape varieties planted and the region produces a diverse style: sparkling, still white, still red, dessert. Across the 40,000 hectares of the region, the wines have a distinct mediterranean character.
While the potluck was being prepared, I enjoyed an glass of Blanquette de Limoux from Sieur d’Arques ( SAQ # 94953, $17.90). The AOP Limoux yields sparkling wines with a saline mediterranean character. It is said that the Blanquette de Limoux was the world’s first sparkling wine, going back as 1531. This bottling is majority blend of 90% Mauzac with the reminding in equal parts Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Medium body, crisp and refreshing, it was a marvelous match with a scallop ceviche, granny smith and jalapeno pepper. The green apple and iode notes of the Limoux cleansing out the cilantro undertones from the ceviche.
The entree of the potluck was an aspic dashi with eggs, fresh coriander and shiitake mushrooms. An impressive food match that proves the versability of Languedoc wines. The Picpoul de Pinet Ormarine Les Pins de Camille ( SAQ # 266064, $13.10) was exciting reflecting flavors of iode, green apple, meyer lemons and mint. It was a crisp and nicely round on the edges bringing an aromatic herbal sensation when combined with the dish. More than half of the still white wines (61%) of Languedoc come from the appellation, Picpoul de Pinet where the Picpoul grape is the leading protagonist reflecting the chalky mineral soil with a sunny mediterranean character.
The dashi was also matched with the rose from Gerard Bertrand 2016 ( SAQ # 12521962, $18.35). A traditional blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, this rose brought to mind raspberry sorbet, strawberry with provencal herbs or garrique. Crisp and fresh, it brought out a different mineral sensation when paired with the dish.
Next came a series of gastronomical dishes matched by diverse wines of the appellation. With a paella made with in the risotto style, we had two wines from les Cave de Roquebrun: A Fiefs D’Aupenac 2016 ( SAQ # 10559174, $18.55) and a Rose Col de L’Orb 2015 ( SAQ # 642504, $12.70). These are from the appellation of Saint Chinian and more specifically coming from the Roquebrun area. This appellations is very sunny appellation from Languedoc, getting as much 0f 300 days per sun a year for the village of Roquebrun. The soils to the north are dominated by schists and gravel while to the south they contain more chalk.
Les Fiefs D’Aupenac is a lovely majority blend of Rousanne (80%) with the remainder Grenache Blanc ( 20%). It was very enchanting with its nuances of honey and nougat and notes of ripe apricot fruit and orange blossom water. Structured with a pronounced minerality, it was a lovely complement to the risotto, elevating the saffron notes of the dish. On the other hand, the rose Col de L’Orb, a blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Grenache with its aromas of bruised red berries and wet flowers gave an earthy character to the accord giving bringing to mind roasted garrique notes.
Another dish that caught my attention was a fancy rendition of Mac and Cheese with old cheddar perfumed with truffle oil. It was paired again with a hearty St-Chinian and a velvety Cabardes. La Madura Tradition 2014 ( SAQ # 10682615, $18.95) is a multi blend of Grenache ( 30%), Carignan ( 37%), Syrah ( 10%) and Mourvedre ( 14%). A very racy wine with nuances of camphor, dark cassis, prunes and black cumin. Earthy with muscular tannins and balsamic nuances as well. A very interesting match with the mac & cheese providing in the palate a very smoky sensation.
From the appellation of Cabardés, we also enjoyed the Chateau de Pennautier ( SAQ # 560755, $14.55). The vineyards that give birth to this wine comes from sunny and rocky hills in the southern slope of the black mountain between 200-300 meters of altitude where the vines benefit from the east-west winds of the climate. A comforting red bringing to mind leather, licorice with red pitted cherry and nuances of red currants and paprika. Full body with a very earthy finale. It was a great food match, the wine bringing out a earthiness in the plate with a certain salinity to it.
With a meatball ragu Languedoc style came two wines from the Faugeres and La Clape Appellations: L’Impertinent from Faugeres and Chateau Rouquette sur Mer. They were good matches but I preferred the Chateau du Grand Caumont 2015-Impatience ( SAQ # 978189, $18.55) from the Corbieres appellation and the Devois des Agneaux D’Aumelas 2014 ( SAQ # 912311, $19.45) from the general AOC Languedoc. The corbieres was spicy reminiscent of hoisin sauce, cloves and cacao in a dark fruit sauce. Powerful and racy with a nice minerality with muscular yet vibrant tannins. The Devois des Agneaux brought to mind cofee, macerated cherry in brandy with dry mediterranean spices such as oregano. It was rich and satiny and very long.
So after reading this, you get the idea that the wines of Languedoc are versatile with a diverse types of cuisine and perfect for any potluck. As the christmas holidays are approaching, please bear in mind these wines for your family and friends gathering.