Here we are folks, a play-by-play of what you said. I'll try to make sense of it all as we go and clear up any questions or ambiguities that crop up at the soonest possible opportunity. So, if there's any issue regarding these "Mid-priced wines of the Midi," don't be shy, just let me know...
Huevosconvino of Huevos con vino was the first to comment in for WBW 33. With the 2004 Mas des Chimères Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc-Roussillon value wines were off to a good start. The bottle costs about $15; the verdict is that this one is worth it. I think his generous post is very much worth reading through too.
Kelly posted promptly and put her trademark scoring system into action (one of the quirks of Full Bodied, a really fun wineblog and a Canadian cousin to Weingolb that she and her blogging partner Annie write). She readily granted their bottles full-bodied cleavage grades. Annie concurred. Check out their great post: The 2005 Gres Saint Paul Libertine Muscat sec, a Vin de Pays d'Oc, and the 2004 Château de Lascaux Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup are both mighty fine. Thanks Kelly and Annie.
ChâteauBrys's Maarten goes classy in his luxurious Viognier submission. The Laurent Miquel La Verité Viognier 2005 sounds great but it comes to 17 Euros, which is in the middle of our price range yet pricey for a Vin de Pays d'Oc. It gets that designation because it doesn't quite fit into AOC St-Chinian regulations, which is where its producers operate. Maarten assures us that these Miquel winemakers really know their stuff. One to watch out for.Winedeb of Deb's Key West Wine & Gardening is participating in her first WBW event and generates some synergy here. She chose to submit her review of Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2005, which turns out to be the baby brother bottle to Maarten's selection. It's a great debut for Deb, even without the food pairing post she followed up her WBW post with. Check them out.
Andrew of Wine Sediments posted this entry, which appears to be penned by winedeb, Deb Crowley of Key West fame. She may be the most prolific contributor to 33, getting in as much good word on these wines in as many blogs as possible. This time it's the 2003 Corbières Castelmaure Grande Cuvée that gets her going. Well worth its $20 cost, she says.
Earlybird Barrld of Barreled, A Wine Blog found that Languedoc wines right around the $20 mark was the sweet spot in terms of value. His critical review of the 2003 Château Puech-Haut Coteaux du Languedoc makes a interesting point. At almost $30 this Languedoc perhaps tried too hard to be something, such as the Syrah of the Rhône, which it wasn't.
Podcast: Wine for Newbies' Bill Wilson did a great podcast on Languedoc-Roussillon not long ago. You should check it out and his entry which includes four wines from 2004 -- two Coteaux du Languedoc, one Minervois and Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes from Calvet-Thunevin. Bill does neat capsule reviews for each so I won't even reveal the names here. (Mmm... okay I will -- they are great names: Clavel, Les Verrières, and Coupe Roses. Great selections!) Go read up on his site!
Brooklynguy of Brooklynguy's Food and Wine Blog was the last blogger to fire away his entry to me on the eve of WBW 33. In his case, I know he had to get organized because New York wines were calling his name at an non-WBW event on May 16. What a guy! He still gives Languedoc-Roussillon due diligence. Check his post for wise advice on the 2004 Mas de Chimères Coteaux du Languedoc, one of the most widely available mid-range Languedocs in the US.
WBW roundup 1st period break: 9 participants writing about 12 wines give 8 positive reactions to "Languedoc-Roussillon value wines". One participant supplies a less than positive reaction, though not entirely negative, but it suggests that the value in Languedoc-Roussillon value wines may be better found at a slightly lower price figure. But apart from a Minervois and a Corbières, everyone is assessing Coteaux du Languedoc. And we start with the Chimères, and end with the Chimères.
At The Corkdork the steady supply of reliable Coteaux du Languedoc continues. Charts indicated that this wine named Château La Clotte-Fontane has a clean bill of health. This 2004 is only three years old, but it seems to have the depth, complexity and elegance that the Corkdork usually attributes to only the most prestigious wines. And only $17!
Edward of Wino Sapien finds less to admire in this slightly more expensive Corbières. Read his review of the 2003 Fontbories from Vignerons de Camplong and send him a suggestion or two on tracking down a better candidate. (And, of course, include your best wishes on completing the construction of his carport, the latest backdrop for Edward's iconic oenophilic photography.)
Dr. Debs of the ever-popular Good Wine Under $20 turns in a review of the 2004 Domaine Olivier Pithon Cuvée Laïs. This finally introduces the Roussillon half of the theme to our event. Credit to the Dr! The region of Roussillon is supposed to have good things in its winemaking future and this Côtes du Roussillon white wine would apparently be no exception. But it's not a bargain price and my counterpart with credentials wonders whether this Roussillon could be coasting on its Midi name while other regional wineries charge much less for their products.
My Wine Education's Michelle aka the wine girl of the URL in question, tries a Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, which is basically a Côtes du Roussillon but more upscale, harvested from grapes in the higher elevations of the region. I'm glad she sent in this entry when she did... She was almost ready to call it a night when she suddenly remembered to open her WBW bottle. And I was wondering if all the hype around Roussillon potential was a fantasy. See what Michelle thinks about the 2003 Mas Amiel Notre Terre.
Wine Outlook's Farley had a rough week and missed the theme by $10. (Yes folks, this here is a $5 wine.) She still managed to get to the heart of the matter and discover the value of affordable Midi wines. She tasted the 2005 Chapelle du Bois Syrah, a Vin de Pays d'Oc. More details at her post.
Jens at Cincinnati Wine Warehouse served up the 2003 Domaine de la Tour Boisée for WBW 33. His review doesn't beat around the bush. He loves this Minervois wine. It's at this point that I see participants noting how these Languedoc-Roussillon wines are great quaffers -- certainly a positive reaction for a style of wine many folks just aren't used to, if a somewhat modest compliment.
Like Bill at Wine for Newbies, Ruarri at Grape Thinking profiled four different wines, all "exceptionally priced" from the Midi region. But unlike Bill, Ruarri gives us the inside scoop only for his leader of the pack. And it's a rosé for a change! This one is fresh -- the only 2006 bottle in the event. Check it out. It's the Domaine de Nizas Coteaux du Languedoc, good for a tight budget or a picnic in a pinch.
Serge Lescouarnec of Serge the Concierge provides this link, another Côtes du Roussillon called Domaine Bila-Haut. This 2004 wine was a popular choice for WBW 33, in part because, as Serge points out, it comes in price categories both frugal and grand. They are less than $10 apart so which is the better value? Are either of them a true Languedoc-Roussillon value wine? Read on to find out.
RougeAndBlanc aka Andrew posts to his site a winner. Finally someone has entered a 2001 vintage into the competition. (Not that WBW is a competition or anything.) Even better, this one's carrying the Pic St-Loup Coteaux du Languedoc classification. Expectations are met on this Chateau Lavabre ($25) but his trusty notes don't equivocate: this one could be even better with further cellaring. He should know. He tasted a 1999 Pic St-Loup prior to this. Check out his WBW contribution and his earlier Languedoc findings.
WBW roundup 2nd period break: The Roussillons are starting to catch up to the Languedocs with more Côtes du Roussillon (-Villages) than Coteaux du Languedocs coming in now. 9 more participants writing about 13 wines all have positive reactions to "Languedoc-Roussillon value wines" except for one mediocre bottle and one good but perhaps overvalued bottle. Maybe the best Languedoc-Roussillon value wines can come in packages with under $15 pricetags?
Keeping with the ageability undercurrent that RougeAndBlanc started, Grazza of Tales of a Sommelier tells us about the 1998 Domaine de l'Arjolle Cuvee Paradoxe and gets you interesting while doing it. He tells an involving story with his post. This is a Vin de Pays and features a lot of the international grape varieties that many drinkers often have these days. Grazzac is brimming with expertise and it's nice to receive him for WBW 33.
Not to be outdone, JD from Walk the Wine edges in with his 5 years+ reserve wine. It's another sample from the uber-vintage of the Languedoc-Roussillon -- the 2001 Mas Cal Demoura L'Infidèle from Coteaux du Languedoc. It could be the most expensive bottle in the contest. JD calls it the monster. What a throwdown this event is turning out to be! I wish California Girl Sonadora could've been here for such a bold submission. Nice!
Joe from Joe's Wine, a fellow Montreal wine blog, taps into some of the wine that the small Roussillon region of Collioure has to offer. Well chosen Joe -- we needed this entry. His selection is on the 2004 Domaine La Tour Vieille 'La Pinède'. Joe's a real pro for reeling in this quirky AOC for WBW 33. It's $24 but Joe got it as a gift from a traveller to the Midi.
Box Wines aka Roger put up two different wines on his site. The real WBW entry was the Minervois that Jens at Cincinnati Wines profiled but it was the 1999 vintage. He followed that up with some additional notes on a more approachable, if very very cheap, Coteaux du Languedoc called Les Hauts de la Brune. This was five years younger (2004) so I guess it's not entirely surprising that he would opt for the mid-range wine being better value than the cheapie.
Vinilicious's Bryan is participating in his second WBW and he's a valuable addition to the event because he tackled some fortified wine from Languedoc-Roussillon, one of two people to do so, in his submission. It's the 2005 Clos des Paulilles Banyuls. I've had Clos Des Paulilles and I've had Banyuls but I've not had this. He introduces this bottle with a clear and well-written post -- take a look.
Red Wine with Fish's Daniel enters with the sibling bottle of Serge the Concierge's post. The 2004 Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem is from Côtes du Roussillon. Read his take on this new Chapoutier brand from the Midi here and see how this more expensive bottle compares with the regular version.
Catherine Granger of Purple Liquid: a wine and food blog supplied another Côtes du Roussillon. The 2004 Clot de L'Oum Compagnie des Papillons she calls delicious. (The dinner pairing she suggests for it sounds equally as yummy... Got to love the Mediterranean diet.) Feast you eyes on her entry.
Nate from Vinvenio has been busy. He was the last to comment in but among the first to being posting for WBW 33. In the end, he produced three information-filled posts. I still am looking through them myself. Check out his 2003 Paulilles Banyuls here, his 2005 Pas de L'Escalette Coteaux du Languedoc "budget wine" here and its $20 brother from the honourable Terrasses du Larzac subappellation (2004), over here. Nice work!
Finally John of Brim to the Dregs posts his thoughts on WBW 33 but worringly titles it Wine Blogging Thursday... No worry; it's worth the wait. He opens a 2001 -- right on -- from at Château Aumèdes. This is a Corbières and it sounds wonderful and familiar, stalling at first with a muted nose and closed palate but developing into a lovely and elegant wine. The experience provokes John to pen a follow-up post.
WBW roundup heading into overtime: These additional 9 participants wrote up 12 different bottles and it became clear across this bunch of entries that the closer to the mid-range these bottles were, the greater examples of Languedoc-Roussillon value they were. The last trickling-in posts also continued this trend and brought total participants to 27 and participating reviews to 40, which is a fine response in all!
Me, Marcus, your loyal host for WBW 33, posted the only Faugères of the event, a spectacular 2001 from Château des Adouzes, not to be confused with the similar-sounding Château above. Check it out at Doktor Weingolb -- but you probably knew that already -- filed under this entry (with a side Coteaux du Languedoc selection as well).
And last but certainly not least, your gracious founder, Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours fame, put up this post on his site. It's another Roussillon wine, and while I simply cannot crunch any more numbers tonight, it seems like this final submission helps to present a balanced investigation between the eastern and western ends of Languedoc-Roussillon. Great effort.
Thanks to all for contributing to WBW 33: Languedoc-Roussillon value wines!