Languedoc’s Secret: Amazing White Wines from Roussillon
February 8, 2019
Given our proximity to BC wines, it’s easy to get in a purchasing rut. Can I have the latest Chenin Blanc from Quail’s Gate? Yes please! The Old Vines Riesling from Tantalus? Let me get my glass! But what about the world’s blended wines? We’re looking at Roussillon, where a vast array of wines that include unique varietals are intricately blended.
So where the heck is Roussillon, you ask? It’s in Southern France, in the Languedoc region, or what I like to call the Mish Mash Zone. Most French appellations allow only a handful of varietals to be grown and made into wine. Whereas the Mish Mash Zone allows 24 types of grapes including a lot of the major international varietals in addition to the traditional French or Rhône grapes.
It’s difficult to describe a typical wine of Roussillon because of all the possible variations. Climatic variables also need to be taken into consideration due to the region’s sizeable geographical area. I recently had the chance to taste a couple of white Roussillon wines, both of which were vibrant and refreshing – yet exemplified completely different compositions.
CHAPOUTIER LES VIGNES DE BILA-HAUT CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON 2017
$16.99 at BC Liquor Stores 90 points – Robert Parker
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macabeu, this entry-level wine from Chapoutier is fantastic value. The young, lively and fresh nose shows layers of citrus, from lemon zest and grapefruit to a touch of tangerine. When you take a sip, the citrusy Grenche Blanc sparks your tongue and then the flavours evolve to showcase green apple and minerality from the Macabeu. The texture becomes slightly richer and the vibrancy is enhanced in part due to the Grenache Gris. I adore the evolution displayed here. While initially reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc (citrus forward), the blend allows each sip to be studied differently. Try this one with some Mediterranean seafood such as calamari or a flatbread with lemon chicken and pesto.
TRIGONE WHITE n°16 BY LE SOULA
$39.99 at BC Liquor Stores
Think back to your childhood and when/if you ever made papier-mâché. There’s the structured outer shell with the balloon underneath which provides support. That’s what I thought about when I tasted Trigone. At first sip, you can taste the primary citrus, pear and white peach flavours. But underneath, there’s a floral richness and a backbone of mineral and white pepper. There is a distinct depth, which no doubt, is due to the complex blending of varietals and vintages. Are you ready for your head to spin? Varietal Breakdown: 78% Macabeu, 11% Malvoisie du Roussillon, 8% Vermentino & 3% Sauvignon, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne & Roussanne. On the vintage side of things (in spite of Google and BC Liquor Stores calling it a 2016 vintage) the White n°16 is actually mix of vintages: 73% – 2016 15% – 2015 9% – 2014 3% – 2013
If you’re interested in something you’re guaranteed to have never tasted before, it’s worth the trip to the 1 of 5 stores that carry it across the Lower Mainland to pick up a bottle.