Picking out top wines from sunny southern France

The focus is sunny southern France this week following a recent trip I made to the Languedoc courtesy of O’Briens, writes Leslie Williams.

 Flying to Carcassonne is very easy and worth it — the old Cathar city of Carcassonne being one of those places everyone should visit. You’ve missed it this year but a trip to see the Bastille Day firework display bouncing off the old battlements is another thing you should put on your bucket list.

One of the best visits on the trip was to Domaine Begude on a hillside in Limoux, an appellation dominated by Co-Ops making sparkling Crémant de Limoux and Blanquette de Limoux — unlike their neighbours the estate focuses on still wines. Catherine and James Kinglake moved from their jobs in the City to Domaine Begude in 2003 and while it has clearly been very hard work it is hard not to envy them and the idyllic landscape they inhabit. Moving to France also brought good luck as Catherine found herself pregnant soon after her arrival.

James and Catherine are assisted by a French estate manager and consultant winemaker Richard Osborne who is originally from the Barossa. Richard and James have a progressive and curious streak that has led them to plant things like Grüner Veltliner. Sadly the “Exotique” GV as they called it is about to be grubbed up as the vines are not doing well — a shame as I really liked its lemon-pepper floral freshness.

The vineyard’s rocky clay soils are organically farmed using zero pesticides and keeping parasites at bay through the use of pheromone pouches (works with apple trees also by the way).

Given the altitude, they have a long cool growing season with warm days but cool nights.

Aldi’s summer sale continues and I recommend their (very) inexpensive Merlot below, don’t take it too seriously! Also below are a couple of the Begude wines and some other Languedoc wines from Laurent Miquel and an outlying Gewürztraminer from New Zealand that I loved — be warned it has 12g of residual sugar but has lovely balance and fruit — keep an open mind and give it an extra chill if this sounds too rich for your blood.

Picking out top wines from sunny southern France

Les Auzines Hautes Terres Rouge,Corbières, France — €14.95

Stockist: O’Briens Stores Nationwide, new store in ArdkeenWaterford

Another from the Laurent Miquel estate, this time their property of LesAuzines on a rocky plateau 350m above sea level with stunning views (worth a Google). This is a blend of, grenache, syrah and old vine carignan with concentrated blackberry fruits and a light, herbal touch on the finish.

Les Beauchamps Syrah, Languedoc,France — €14.95

Stockist: O’Briens Stores Nationwide.

From an Irish-French couple (Neasa and Laurent Miquel) this is 100% syrah and is full-fruited with a deep red-purple hue, and a palate packed with crunchy black fruits and a subtle hit of cloves. Also watch for the white peach and ripe melon flavoured Beauchamps Viognier.

Grand Sud Merlot 2016, France,1 litre — €8.99


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