Thursday, 22 September 2011

Diversity of Languedoc Roussillon

Whenever I describe the Languedoc Roussillon I always mention the diversity, the beauty, the countryside, the dynamism and generally the fact that the area is at the crossroads between many different influences. The nearby town of Narbonne is known as the crossroads historically as it was the meeting place for the Via Domitia and the Via Aquitania (which linked to the Atlantic coast via Toulouse and Bordeaux).
We live in the stunning countryside near the village of Minerve. The Canal du Midi is 8 km down the hill. The Mediterranean beaches are 35 minutes away at Gruissan. The Spanish border is less than 2 hours. Within 4 hours travel I could be in Avignon, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Carcassonne, Montpellier, Toulouse, Nimes, Perpignan or Lyon. Therefore this area has so many influences and outsiders (like my family and I) who invade the area often bring their cultures, their styles and their make up.
In the world of viticulture this cross over of style and influence can add to a massive diversity, whilst also negating any sense of true identity. Yes, the world is changing all the time, but sometimes the known known can be safe rather than a risk. The vineyards of Burgundy mainly work with one white varietal (Chardonnay) and one red grape variety (Pinot Noir). The northern Rhone is mainly Syrah, Bordeaux is mainly Cabernet Sauvignon in the Medoc and mainly Merlot in the Saint Emilion and Pomerol areas.
So it was quite a shock to see some weird and wonderful grape varieties that are planted in this area today. I took these photos at the local Cave CoOperative in Aigne. These are some of the grapes planted in the local area.

Have you ever heard of these grape varieties that add to the diversity of the Languedoc? Auban. Aramon,, Caladoc, Carignan Blanc, Chassan, Chenanson, Clairette B, Listan, Terret Blanc, Terret Gris and Terret Noir, Egiodolan, Marselan and Portan.

Next time you are having a glass of Sauvignon Blanc just remember that there are quite a few other grape varieties waiting to be explored.


Graham said...

The sad thing is that these unusual varieties are more often than not added to the mix of the local coop and n├ęgociant. It's interesting to see what talented growers and wine makers can make with this stuff.
I know of a few Carignan blanc, Terret blanc and Clairette blancs in the category. Clos Centeilles down your way has a reputation for nurturing some rare vines including Aspiran (now called Ribeyrenc).

Peter Mathews said...

I have the great fortune to live and work in the Aude department, so I almost live and breathe vine and wine on a daily basis. I was driving to Aigne on Sunday and my passenger said to me "do you know Hamish"? Of course I said no, but it's a small world when I get a posting from North America on my Facebook page linking to Bella Wines just three days later!

HamishWM said...

Thanks Graham...Yes I agree that many of these weird and (possibly)wonderful grape varieties never see the light of day as they are blended in to an anonymous Vin de France. I am just intrigued to try some of these single varietals. Clos Centeilles are making stunning wines at the mo.

HamishWM said...

Peter. When you were discussing me, you were probably driving past my house!! I would love to claim the power of my global reach......but I think it more likely pure coincidence. But you are very welcome to 'Like' Bella Wine Tours FB page.