Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #33: Mid-Priced Wines from the Midi

Welcome to Wine Blogging Wednesday #33, the online tasting event dreamed up by Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours. Today our host is Marcus, better known as Dr. Weingolb, who came up with a terrific theme: mid-priced wines from the Midi. The Midi is the region in Southern France that might be better known as the Languedoc-Roussillon. The region produces hearty reds and full-bodied whites at excellent prices, and Marcus wanted us to focus for this tasting on wines that retail between $15 and $30. I've had many Languedoc-Roussillon wines that were under $15, but this was only my second foray into the slightly higher priced bottlings.

For my entry I tried the 2004 Domaine Olivier Pithon Côtes du Roussillon Cuvée Laïs ($19.00, Red Carpet Wine; $26.99 from K & L). This was a very interesting wine made with grenache blanc, grenache gris, and macabeo (aka viura) grapes. While I've had other wines made from grenache blanc, I've never had anything made from the other two varietals. And the grenache blancs I've had have been very perfumed. In this wine, the aromas were almost entirely from the mineral kingdom, with the fruit aromas very muted and almost non-existant. Sips of this wine revealed more mineral flavors, along with stone, wet grass, and herbs. There was a slight tinge of apple, as well, but only a slight tinge.

Languedoc-Roussillon wines respond well to the flavors of the Mediterranean--seafood, herbs, tomatoes, spices, and vegetables--so we had this with a roast chicken, a green salad, and lots of accompaniments, like flat-breads, olives, tzatziki, red pepper spread, and hummus. The wine went well with these flavors, and the mineral notes sliced through the varied spices without any problem.

Like many winemakers of the region, Olivier Pithon practices biodynamics, the subject of an earlier Wine Blogging Wednesday hosted by Jack and Joanne at Fork and Bottle. These are a body of traditional viticultural practices recorded by Rudolf Steiner, which include enriching the soil with natural ingredients and steering clear of pesticides (for more information, click on either of the links above which have many useful resources). I felt that Pithon's biodynamic practices may help to explain the minerality of his wine, as this was a feature of biodynamic wines that many of us commented on in the previous WBW event.

This wine had good QPR, but I still felt like the lower price bottlings often have even more bang for the buck. Still, this experience confirms that I would never shy away from a Languedoc-Roussillon wine in the wine shop. I've yet to have one that I felt wasn't worth the price I paid for it, or one that didn't deliver lots of interesting flavor. I'm looking forward to what others found out about the region's wines. To check out the WBW #33 posts as they come in, you can click on the comments section to this post on Dr. Weingolb. Or, you can wait for the round-up. As usual, I'll post a link to that over here as soon as Marcus gets it up and running. Thanks to Marcus for a great theme, and I'll see you back here for WBW #34 next month.


Marcus said...

Round-up should be ready by Monday... hope the comments link can keep folks occupied until then -- I know it will be occupying my weekend!

DrDebs this entry is very interesting. I can't recall tasting a Roussillon white in recent memory, though I do like those white grapes in other blends.

Hey I didn't know Macabeo was Viura! I thought the French name was Macabeu so I guess it's a case of one grape two names in Spanish!

Thanks for this eye-opening entry!

Dr. Debs said...

It was an eye-opener for me, also. Definitely makes me want to explore the world of L-R whites a bit more. And the grape thing--very weird, but here's a summary of the findings:

Look forward to the roundup!

Joe said...

Hi Debs. Well done choosing a white - I am sure that it was one of the only ones. The only white Midi wine I have ever had was the Les Jamelles VdP, Sauv. Blanc - stunning value. I would have commented on your Falesco post, but the comments are turned off...Cheers!

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks, Joe. Trying to be little different and have had many reds from the region; this was my excuse to try white. Have no idea what happened to the comments section on the Falesco post but it is on now. Thanks for letting me know!