Sud de France wines
The venue tells you something about the ambition.
Holding a tasting at the Ambassador's Residence says that you have arrived; you are no longer an upstart, you are establishment - with all the classiness and elegance that implies.
In terms of popular interest, Languedoc has vast potential - it is unspoilt, unstuffy rural France, with both history and heritage, easily accessible geographically and linguistically, with ripe-yet-sophisticated wines to boot.
And they are (still) very good value.
If Languedoc is becoming a generic by-word for well-made, inexpensive wines, its more ambitious sub-regions have greater aspirations.
La Clape is a rocky outcrop overlooking the Med whose wines I have been impressed with for some time. By contrast, the tiny appellation of St Saturnin where Virgile Joly is based, was a revelation.
Ch Négly has been family owned for generations; they make wines both from their own estate on La Clape and from grapes grown in other parts of Languedoc. However, I found their La Clape wines most impressive.
La Côte 2015 GS+C blend; ripe dark fruit, supple texture and spiciness. Good.
La Falaise 2015 GSM blend; dark fruit, spices and an earthy minerality; supple, balanced (despite 15% alcohol) and long. Very Good.
Grands Vins de Pazac, Costieres de Nimes
Established in 1968, this co-op had a stack of medal-winning wines to show.
Le Pigeonnier Costieres de Nimes 2015 (Gold, Orange) Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Roussane blend; floral and peachy, very fresh with sweet spices. Good.
Veuve Mathilde Costieres de Nimes 2014 (Gold, Paris) Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne blend; waxy and fat with stone fruit and good freshness. Good depth and length, pure and clean. Good.
Le Pigeonnier Costieres de Nimes 2015 (Gold, Orange) Grenache noir, Cinsault, Syrah rosé blend; elegant redcurrant fruit. Pure fresh and clean. Good.
Mas Teranga Cotes du Rhône 2015 (Gold, Nimes) GSM+C blend; mulberry fruit and green herbs with peppery spice. Good.
Domaine Virgile Joly, Saint Saturnin
Organic, hand-harvested wines from the tiny appellation of Saint Saturnin.
Saturne Blanc 2013 Grenache blanc, Roussane blend; fresh, floral and peachy-apricotty. Clean and pure. Good.
Saturne Rosé 2015 Grenache blanc, Syrah, Cinsault rosé blend; fresh and clean redcurrant fruit. Very adept.
Saturne Rouge 2012 GS+C blend; dark fruit with plum and mint, animal and leather with minerality. Very Good.
Virgile Rouge 2010 GC+C blend; dark fruits and cocoa with sweet spice. Supple, youthful and complex. Very Good.
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