It’s not often I review foreign wine, so when I do I always like to insert a little bit about the region. This Gris de Gris hails from France’s Languedoc-Roussilon AOC, which spans along the Mediterranean coastline, from the southern border with Spain up toward France’s region of Provence. In total, the AOC has about 700,000 acres planted to vines and is one of the biggest wine-producing regions in the world.
The terrain and climate characteristics are similar to that of the Southern Rhône region (located to the north and slightly west of Languedoc) and Provence (located to the north, arching toward the east along the Mediterranean Ocean.) Thus, the whole of the Languedoc-Roussillon region produces a wide variety of grapes and wine styles — from your classic “Bordeaux” varietals (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc) to your typical Rhône varietals (Grenache, Syrah, Viognier).
There are several appellations and sub-appellations within Languedoc that, for the most part, were originally separated based more on politics than wine-related reasons — though this seems to be changing even as we speak. However, a lot of wines from this area will still simply state “Languedoc” without any other regional or varietal information on the bottle.
On the whole, the Languedoc regions seems to be –what? — undiscovered or under-appreciated? There are quality wines coming from the AOC that are a lot more affordable than some of France’s other notable regions. I guess, for now, let’s not question it, let’s just go with it. And let’s go with it with this Gris de Gris.
I love a good rosé and I love a good Rhône wine, so it’s a safe bet that a Rhône-style rosé would be right up my alley. Predominantly familiar with the California take on Rhône varietals, I was excited to receive the Gérard Bertrand 2016 Cote des Roses and taste the Languedoc AOC’s expression of these most familiar varietals.
About the Wine: As I mentioned in my brief Languedob-Roussillon synopsis, some French wines prefer to stay mysterious. Or, maybe it’s that they decide to maintain and Old World etiquette, not boasting the exact grape varieties, winemaking methods, and percentages of each varietal used. It does seem to be a “New World” fascination, telling a wine’s story on the back of the bottle, swaying drinkers’ opinions by the choice of words used. Why not, instead, taste the wine and figure it out yourself.
Such is the case with this Domaine Sainte Croix Cuvee Montures 2015 Rosé. I can tell you very little except what I saw, smelled, and tasted. I’ve drawn the conclusion that it is a purposeful rosé created in classic Rhône-style. But, read my notes — or better yet taste it for yourself — and tell me what you think.
I’m hesitant to write about French wine — what is, in my eyes, the foundation for pretty much all wines. It has a bit of a celebrity status I suppose. One of the best ways to “unintimidate” myself is to focus on one specific region in reference to a few wines I’ve had opportunity to taste, putting this educational experience into context. So, please join me as we travel overseas to France’s Languedoc-Roussillon wine region.
Personally, I first learned about Picpoul from winemaker (and kindred spirit) Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyards. He told me that Picpoul literally translates “lip stinger” — and let’s just say that as a lover of lemons, limes, and all sour candies (remember Shockers?), I was immediately taken aback by the power and intensity of the light and lively wine this Santa Cruz winemaker had to offer. So I was more than delighted to dive right into a bottle from varietal’s namesake region, Picpoul-Pinet.