Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Sud de France - Road to Recovery

So far, Sud de France is working hard to redeem its reputation. Gone are the long nights of partying and illicit behavior. The paparazzi is now anxious to find better material than SdF picking up organic kale at the farmers market or drinking green smoothies after yoga.

The second tasting event yielded even more solid options for the impending summer heat. There are definitely quality wines to be had from the reforming region. So, what to drink?

Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet 2011 (approx $12)

This white, made from a grape called picpoul that is native to the south of France, is what I would call a "hammock wine" - one of those light and crisp easy drinkers that you can sip on all day long while lazily lounging around. On the nose, there are notes of honeysuckle and lime but on the palate, the floral tones are replaced by apricot and other subtle orchard fruits. Most interestingly, there is a saline, salty finish, with a few notes of slate, that round out this light-bodied, acidic and zesty wine. I'm starting to have a crush on Picpoul.

LaFage, Cote Est Catalan, 2011 (approx $15)

This white, a blend of grenache blanc, chardonnay and marsanne, had amplified honeysuckle and floral on the nose with a few whiffs of citrus. On the palate, peach, apricot, and other orchard fruit blossomed on the tongue. It was much more fruit forward than the Picoul but still finished dy. It was a medium minus body with good acidity, but, I have to admit, it got a little viscous when it got warm. Still a pleasing summer sipper, but darn, shoulda grabbed that ice bucket when I had a moment.

Les demoiselles L'Argentier, Languedoc, 2009 (approx $17)

So, here's where I see how the Languedoc-Roussilion wines starting getting a bad rap. It starts small - sneaking in after curfew, smoking cigarettes behind the bleachers - but you can see how it turns into a bigger problem. This red was super light bodied with essences of Iicorice, pepper and black cherry and both the nose and the palate. It's not that it's bad, per se, it's just not living up to its potential. Maybe it's just misunderstood, like the goth kid who writes beautiful poetry in his spare time. I would actually like to try this red chilled, or served with fish. Taking it out context of what we often think about reds could really improve this wine.

M. Chapoutier, Bila-Haut, Cote du Roussilion Villages 2012 (approx $17)

And then, redemption. Michel Chapoutier never fails to disappoint. Plum and ripe berries notes regale the nose then make their debut on the tongue, only to be followed with earth and spice. Its plush, velvety texture is not too acidic or tannic. A classic syrah, grenache and carignan blend - soooo smooooooth.

Abbaye des Monges Augustine, La Clape, uknown vintage (approx $14)

A classic southern France blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon, grenache and mouvdre, this wine was similar in flavor profile and structure to the M. Chapoutier. However, an arrow of bing cherry shot through the entire wine, giving it distinction from the Chapoutier. The differences were rather nuanced but I slightly prefer the M. Chouptier.

Keep tasting, friends...