AOC Languedoc in Southern France forms the largest wine-making region in the Mediterranean. In the past it has been suggested that the region is a hotchpotch of terroirs and crus, made up, as it is, of 29 different named wines. However, the region has now agreed a new quality structure for its wines. This new structure will tell the consumer where a wine sits within it. In 2007, the governing body for the region launched the Regional AOC LANGUEDOC, which is the base for the hierarchy and this has been seen as a great success. Recently, a further 2 tiers have been added, ‘Grands Vins du Languedoc’ and ‘Grands Crus du Languedoc’. Appellations in each of the newly created categories include:

• The ‘Grands Vins du Languedoc‘ are: Minervois, Corbières, Saint Chinian, Limoux Sparkling wines, Malepère, Faugères, Cabardès, Muscats and part of the Terroirs des Coteaux du Languedoc including Picpoul de Pinet.

• The ‘Grands Crus du Languedoc‘ are: Minervois La Livinière, Corbières Boutenac, Saint Chinian Roquebrun, Terrasses du Larzac, Grès de Montpellier, Pic Saint Loup, Pézenas, La Clape and still wines from Limoux.

This hierarchy has been designed to improve customer understanding of Languedoc wines and that has to be a good thing.

We recently sampled two wines from the region, the first of these was Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2008, which is very pale in colour with a hint of green and a fresh clean fruity bouquet on the nose. As you taste it, there is a big initial hit of peach followed by apricots on the palate. This medium bodied white has a creamy feel on the tongue, but nevertheless has a very refreshing soft tang to it that tingles in the mouth. It has a long finish, those vibrant flavours remaining with you after you swallow. The label, in French, suggests that it is drunk as an aperitif, or with ‘exotic’ fish or white meat dishes. We just drank it by itself and it is a lovely wine, very pleasant to sip while relaxing in good company. Having said that, it would indeed pair well with fish and white meat dishes, even those with some body, as the wine’s creaminess would sharpen as a result.

The second wine we tried, Les Quatre Clochers Chardonnay Reserve from Limoux has a pale yellow hue. It has a heady, pungent bouquet typical of many Chardonnays, however unlike many oak aged Chardonnays, there is a great fresh acidic citrusy fruitiness to it on the palate, we got some distinct lemon in its finish. We drank it well chilled, but as it warmed in the glass the oaky flavour intensified, as did its creaminess and vanilla notes came through on the tongue. I’m not usually a lover of Chardonnay, there are many different ones out there on the market and I find that some, particularly those that are oak aged, have a cloying feel and can leave an aftertaste that I really don’t care for. However, this one has a fresh fruitiness and acidity that I liked, I would certainly drink it again.

You can find the Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2008 at branches of Majestic wine priced at £8.99 and Les Quatre Clochers Chardonnay Reserve 2007 at Tesco stores priced at £7.49. Each of these are very good wines that I would happily recommend.