Monday, June 2, 2014

Languedoc...A Work in Progress - Organic not a Guarantee of Success

I bookmarked this post from Vinography months ago and then forgot about it. Rosé season has officially arrived and reminded me to pull it up and reread it. The Languedoc region of France, offers lots of promise and it has since it began getting a lot of wine press nearly twenty years ago. Writers saw promise in the area and some producers began working with grapes not approved for the appellation and received some impressive scores. The potential still exists but progress has been much slower than expected.
Quality has been more varied in this region, in my opinion, than any other major area over a long period of time. Overly funky aromas, volatile and over-oaked wines are the major flaws. I'm not sure where the "blame" lies. Locals make good wine and bad. International winemakers have been called in with mixed success and the individual appellations within the larger area often display very little consistent sense of place.
More producers than ever are making wines organically and biodynamically then ever before but this has not resulted in an elevation of quality either. The good news for the United States is that importers select wines to bring here and that extra layer of quality checking helps insulate us from flawed wines. However, it is not a guarantee of a tasty bottle.
As usual, the best way to explore is to taste, especially at free tastings hosted by wine shops. If you must buy a value-priced bottle without tasting and without talking to a knowledgable clerk then I recommend the reliability of Argentina (the 2014 harvest may have some issues related to some unusual weather but those won't be on the market for a little while). Don't ignore the Languedoc region, there are some excellent buys and exciting wines but I highly recommend caution.

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