Im just back from Languedoc-Roussillon in the South of France, where I tasted some of my new favorite wines. The region stretches up to the east of the Rhone and down along the Mediterranean coast - its bottom sits atop Spain and the Pyrenees Mountains. Its much lesser-known than Champagne and Burgundy yet the vintages are quality and the scenery - from bucolic countryside dotted with old stone farmsteads to seaside villages backed by terraced, cliff-hugging vineyards - is just splendid.
We packed in a dozen wineries, 50+ vintages, and plenty of cheese and olive tapenade in our boozy five-day visit. My only regret is not packing an extra bag to bring home a whole lot of well-priced French wines! Cest la vie. The good news: Many of these winning bottles are exported to the U.S. (at a mark-up, unfortunately). Heres a round-up of some of my favorites and where you can sample them in the U.S.
* Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls Rimage (100% Grenache; chocolatey deliciousness perfectly paired with chocolate, desserts, fruits, and cheeses)
* Chateau de Jau - Le Jaja de Jau
Sauvignon (light, easy-to-drink wine) or Syrah (a rose? with berry fragrances and a crisp finish)
* Arnaud de Villeneuve - Muscat Sec, Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes (award-winning dry Muscat)
* Arnaud de Villeneuve - Cotes de Roussillon Red (Black Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mouvedre blend; full-bodied with hints of berries and vanilla)
Shipping to New York in 2011
* Domaine Madeloc Banyuls Cirera 2008 (100% Grenache; robust with fruit, spice, and vanilla aromas and flavors. The sweet wine is fermented in brombies (glass jugs) that are left outside for 18 months)
* Cha?teau de Caladroy Co?tes du Roussillon-Villages Cuve?e La Juliane 2004 (Syrah, Carignane, Grenache and Mourve?dre blend. Fresh, with black fruity flavors and plenty of minerally notes. Raspberry, spice and chocolate notes linger on the finish. Drink now.)
Wine Spectator, January 200787 points
DC: Calvert Woodley (for 2009)
California: Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant (for 2009)