WBW 33 is Languedoc-Roussillon value wines, aka mid-priced wines from the Midi. I'm quite familiar with wines of this region (which is why I am enthusiastic about this theme); I'm not sure how new the topic is to potential participants.
For starters then, I offer any reticent L-R drinkers to take a look at the lay of the land. Google Maps shows how Languedoc-Roussillon has a natural gift -- a semi-circle of mountains and ridges aligning vineyards at a more direct angle with the rays of the summer sun. This clever arrangement maximizes budding and fruit production. To this, the neighbouring Mediterranean Sea moderates the temperature so grapes don't get scorched. In other words, nice digs for a wino!
Go ahead an click on the map and take a closer look around the area. It's no wonder genius winemakers by the dozen have set up shop in this region of southern France.
Languedoc and, especially, Roussillon ... have attracted investors such as the owner of Le Pin in Pomerol, the director of Ch Latour in Pauillac, the owner of Ch Valandraud in St-Emilion, Chapoutier, Tom Lubbe of South Africa and several Masters of Wine.
This excerpt was taken from another famous Master of Wine, Jancis Robinson. I credit her not only for inspiring the theme for WBW 33, but also for sending me the bulk of recommended producer names posted during the announcement last week to get bloggers interested. (Jancis Robinson's online forum of subscribers as well as Le Guide du Vin author Michel Phaneuf supplied a handful of other names).
Last fall I met Jancis while in New York, where she spoke about how wine lovers can get the most bang for their buck. In effect, she said to seek out Languedoc-Roussillon bottle priced between $15 and $30:
My reasoning is that the best Midi wines are hand-crafted wines from small domaines run by people with real commitment yet they generally lack sufficient reputation to charge very high prices.
I cannot stress enough what value is to be found in the south of France in the following appellations – none of them super-famous and all of them extremely variable.
These main appellations she's talking about can be found as part of that recommended producers list, which is now a permanent reference on Doktor Weingolb's appendix.
The wine appellations of Languedoc-Roussillon are special, to say the least. I will focus on them some more in upcoming posts. By their very definition, they disallow varietal wines. So that means international varietals like Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon will not likely be seen for WBW 33 (yet WBW participants are sure to taste them as a great many L-R wines will feature some of these grapes in the mix, often alongside Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan).
I realize a move away from the labeling of grape varieties in the wine we drink can be a significant change for drinkers. Grape profiles often determine whether a wine is suitable for serving with dinner, whether it goes with a particular dish or food. I hope to provide some tips on this.
Besides that, in general a lot of wine buyers act on recognizable grapes on the label. For WBW 33, that impulse will be denied in part. This might be different, but change is good! After all, I'm sure most winebloggers (and other potential participants) are intrepid types who will be unfazed by this. So be sure to participate on May 16.
Wines await to be discovered! And with the promise of wine values too!
Next: Vin de Pays