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10 of the Best Red Wines From France’s Languedoc

Until a couple of decades ago, Languedoc was known more for quantity than quality. The vast area in the south of France — often combined with neighboring Roussillon to the west as Languedoc-Roussillon — is not only the country’s largest wine region, but the biggest in the world with about 700,000 acres under vine. Within Languedoc-Roussillon there are dozens of appellations as well as broader IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) wines and others simply labeled Vin de France.

Today, in the sea of Languedoc wines, it’s much easier to find bottles of distinction, many of them excellent values. Though all forms of wine are produced in Languedoc — white, red, rosé, sweet, and sparkling — it’s the reds that really stand out. The best ones can be bold or delicate, fruit-forward or more restrained, but almost always display minerality or hints of “garrigue,” as the wild herbs that cover much of the region are known.

There’s another thing that sets Languedoc apart: With its hot, dry Mediterranean climate, which makes the vines less prone to disease, organic farming has always been less challenging here. It’s more the rule than the exception and was practiced by many winemakers long before other regions embraced it in their production — and marketing. Many Languedoc winemakers never even bothered to put “organic” on their labels; it was just how they worked.

As far as the grape varieties are concerned, it’s not complicated. For the most part they’re the familiar, so-called Rhône varieties, especially Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Carignan, which are typically blended, and with the Carignan often from very old vines. You’ll also find Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir, either bottled as varietals under the IGP or Vin de France designations or, in the case of Cab and Merlot, blended with the Rhône grapes. As you’ll see from the list below, many of the wines are under $20; Languedoc remains one of the best-value regions in the wine world.

The top appellations include Minervois, Corbières (the largest), Faugères, and Pic Saint Loup, which are included in my list, along with other wines. Most of the vineyards in Languedoc lie between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees and Cévennes mountains. The soils include alluvial, chalk, limestone, and gravel, which inform many of the best wines.

Here are 10 of the top red wines from France’s Languedoc.

La Patience Rouge Vin de France 2022

At first, this wine made from Carignan and Syrah may seem like a simple quaffer, charming and delicious with its raspberry and blueberry flavors. Young, fresh, and effortless to drink, it becomes more complex as it opens up, revealing hints of leather, herbs, black licorice, and orange. It’s all supported by refreshing acidity and just enough structure. And did I mention its almost unbelievable price?

Price: $14
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Château Tour Boisée Minervois ‘Marielle et Frédérique’ 2019

This blend of Syrah and Cinsault reminded me of a fine aged Bordeaux or Rhône red, but drinkable far sooner and for a fraction of the price, which are the hallmarks of good Languedoc wines. Concentrated black and red currant flavors are joined by touches of balsamic, black olive, and wet leather. There’s a hint of pencil shavings on the nose.

Price: $15
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Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières 2021

Red fruit flavors dominate here, especially raspberry, along with baking spices, herbs, and hints of milk chocolate and black pepper. It’s all framed by firm tannins and a wet-stone minerality. The blend is 60 percent Carignan, 30 percent Grenache, and 10 percent Syrah. Sixty percent of the wine is aged in French barrels for eight to 12 months.

Price: $18
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Mas des Capitelles Faugères ‘Vieilles Vignes’ 2020

Concentrated blackberry and over-ripe strawberry flavors are accented by powdered cinnamon and nutmeg. The tannins are firm but not over the top, making this wine a pleasure to drink with all kinds of meat and your favorite Mediterranean-inspired dishes. The wine is a blend of Mourvèdre, Carignan (from vines up to 80 years old), and Syrah, with a small part of it aged in oak barrels.

Price: $21
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Les 2 Anes ‘Premiers Pas’ Vin de France 2021

You would never know what this wine was from the label, but “Les 2 Anes” refers to the two donkeys pictured and is the name of the domaine in Corbières where, yes, they use donkeys to do the vineyard work. Organic and biodynamic, it’s simply delicious. It reminds me of a lighter Beaujolais with juicy red fruit notes (raspberry and subtle cranberry), and a chalky texture that frames the fruit. The blend is mainly Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah. Aging is in stainless-steel tanks. Uncomplicated yet enticing, it invites you back for sip after sip.

Price: $18
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Clos Marie Pic Saint Loup ‘L’Olivette’ 2020

This blend of mainly Syrah and Mourvèdre is on the dark and brooding side, with notes of blackberry, black cherry, and garrigue, including rosemary, fennel seed, and black pepper. There’s also a hint of braised meat. This is, in fact, a wine to pair with hearty meat dishes, with the fruit supported by a firm tannin structure.

Price: $30
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Fat Bastard Syrah Pays d’Oc IGP 2022

A relatively large-production wine that has long been one of the region’s top values, the 2022 is light-ish and easy to drink, with red cherry, cranberry, and raspberry flavors and herb notes in the background. The wine is partially aged in oak. The Fat Bastard winery also produces Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.

Price: $13
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Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Corbières 2021

A classic Languedoc expression based on Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault. Juicy, ripe dark fruit flavors are accented by hints of lavender, powdered cocoa, and white pepper. Elegant and fresh, it screams out for herb-infused chicken, pork, and vegetable dishes. Another excellent Languedoc value.

Price: $15
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Château Massiac Minervois 2020

This lovely wine from Carignan and Syrah smells of wet stone, announcing the prominent minerality that frames its concentrated black plum and cherry notes. Medium-bodied, it finishes with a pop of acidity that gives the wine a refreshing lift at the end and beckons you for the next sip.

Price: $15
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Château L’Hospitalet La Clape 2020

La Clape is a small, newer Languedoc appellation that lies at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea and produces distinctive red wines like this one. It’s part of the large Languedoc portfolio of Gérard Bertrand, a former professional rugby player who produces wines from numerous Languedoc appellations. This wine has always impressed me, and despite its 15 percent ABV, the 2020 is well balanced. A blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre, It shows notes of cassis, rosemary, baking spices, and a hint of eucalyptus. (Also worth trying: the 2019 Château de Villemajou Corbières Boutenac, another standout from Bertrand’s portfolio.)

Price: $35
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The article 10 of the Best Red Wines From France’s Languedoc appeared first on VinePair.

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