11 must-try red wines from Languedoc
Last April, dozens of wine journalists gathered in the small town of Pézenas, Languedoc for the annual “Terroirs et Millésimes” event. But why Pézenas? Located halfway between Béziers and Montpellier, it is said to be the next village to be granted the much sought-after AOC status, top of the French wine hierarchy. There are few other reasons why you may want to go there: maybe to pay tribute to Molière, the great playwright who started his career there or to visit the many antique shops that abound in the city.
The vineyard is small at 200 hectares located just north of the town; it includes a variety of soils where Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre thrive among old vines of Cinsault and Carignan. The wines are red only, with about three dozen producers — only a few are familiar to us, Prieuré St-Jean de Bébian or Paul Mas. That could change with an upgraded appellation.
Prieuré St-Jean de Bébian 2013 ($39)
Dark ruby. Deep nose of red and black berries; a vegetal note adds freshness to the moderate oak. Open flavours, full bodied; it feels very fresh on the palate. Finish is tight and slightly astringent; it needs time.
Paul Mas Clos du Moulinas 2015 ($27)
Full ruby. Ripe red fruits and a fair dose of oak. Fresh attack, rather full-bodied and well balanced throughout. Finish is compact and clean. Drink or hold.
Paul Mas Côté Mas Pézenas 2015 ($17)
Surprisingly complex nose of red berries, kirsch and garrigue; discreet oak notes. Soft attack due to lower acidity; it seems a little bit loose on the palate, not tight or firm but there is a nice ripe fruit flavour. Drink soon.
Domaine Le Conte des Floris Villafranchien 2014 ($26)
Light ruby. An elegant wine, easy to drink, supple and half-bodied with subdued tannins and oak on red fruits flavours.
Domaine La Grange Icone 2010/2011/2015 ($53)
Enticing nose on the 2011: blackberry and black fruits, smoke. Rich and full bodied; tight, powdery tannins. The 2010 was even firmer yet velvety with intense thyme and garrigue aromas. In 2015, the oak brings liquorice to the nose; tannins are tight and well wrapped. Very satisfying, hold 4 to 5 years.
Domaine Lacroix-Vanel Fine Amor 2014 ($18)
The nose has finesse, little or no oak and a seductive floral touch. Half-bodied with supple texture but a tight core and clean fruit. Finish is well balanced.
Domaine de la Font des Ormes 2014 ($30)
Black berries and soft spices from the well-dosed oak. Roundness is noticeable on the palate in spite of slightly peaking acidity. Finish is clean and compact.
Les Trois Puechs Cuvée Excellence 2014 ($38)
A strong aroma of thyme fills the glass, complemented by red fruits notes. Oak is not overly present in spite of 12 month aging in new barriques. Beautiful in the mouth, perfectly balanced, very fruity taste. Nourishing.
Domaine Magellan Pézenas 2014 ($18)
Light ruby. Light and delicate nose of red fruits, empyreumatic notes. Not more than half-bodied but flavourful, elegant and round mid-palate. Only the finish is on the firm side. Delicious.
Mas Gabriel Clos des Lièvres 2014 ($24)
Inviting nose of red fruits and well-dosed oak. Supple with soft tannins, half- to full-bodied. Finish is firm, compact.
Domaine Pech Rome Clemens 2014 ($21)
Light ruby. Pleasant nose, red berries, only a touch of oak if any. Easy-to-like taste of sweet red fruits, supple and well balanced. The 2015 was very similar. Ready to drink.