Historically, with regard to winemaking anyway, the Languedoc has been to French wine what the Midwestern plains are to American agriculture–a veritable viticultural breadbasket. Fertile soils, combined with a warm, dry climate make it easy to produce lots and lots of wine here. However, when it comes to wine production, this quantity over quality approach contributed to the region being on the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to vinous prestige. Bulk wine reigned here for much of recent history. Thankfully, the tides have been turning for some time, and conscientious natural growers are popping up across the region, crafting wines of serious credibility and verve, with seriously reasonable price tags. Hervé Sauvaire’s Pays d’Oc rouge is a perfect example.
On the nose, this blend of Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah pulls you in with its notes of ripe black fruits–plum, currant, and boysenberry among them–and holds your attention with its hint of the barnyard. Moving to the palate, you’ll find this Languedoc rouge full yet fresh, with more than enough acidity to balance its supple fruit and tannic structure. The freshness in a red of this heft is notable, and is a testament to the inclusion of Carignan in the blend. It’s an earthy, herbal red that is perfect served cool with our recipe for Roasted Beet Salad with Duck Confit and Chive Vinaigrette.
In celebrated regions like Burgundy, even lower and middle-tier vineyard sites fetch millions of dollars an acre if and when they are put up for sale. For aspiring vignerons (and vigneronnes) it’s virtually impossible to set up shop in regions like this unless you inherit your vines. In more humble regions like the Languedoc, however, it’s still possible for talented young vignerons to set up shop. The best of them, like Sauvaire, are crafting wines of incredible value and finesse, and in doing so are elevating the reputation of their home region.