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(2024) Though Limoux is best known for its Chardonnay, and in particular, sparkling Blanquette de Limoux wines, there's an ever expanding vineyard area being planted to Chenin Blanc, particularly on the higher, stony slopes. This comes from some of the oldest Chenin vineyards of the region, planted at 350 -  380 metres and certified organic. It is fermented and aged in older oak barrels with only occasional batonnage. The nose has that wax and lanolin hint that sometimes marks this variety, firm yellow apple fruit, but a surprising sense of taut minerality too. Beautifully sweet but pin-point fruit on the palate, with such great precision to the acidity.  This feels concentrated and powerful, the barrel component adding a whisper of creamy and buttery oak texture, and yet with 12.5% alcohol and that cool precision it is utterly fresh and appetisingly zippy. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2024) Refreshing is the word here, for an unusual wine made from 100% Rolle (the local name for the grape also known as Vermentino) and in a pétillant style, that is, gently spritzy rather than fully sparkling. A little melon and peach joins nettle and much drier, apple core aromas. Featherweight in the mouth through that delicate bubble and fresh style, and its modest 11.5% alcohol, it is dry, a little Muscat-like perhaps, with plenty salts and citrus acid. Unusual and really rather nice for this summer. Watch the video for more information.
(2024) From its home in the Northern Rhône, global plantings of Viognier have soared over the past 40 years, the variety finding lots of new fans. Australia, California and South America have gone big on Viognier, but so too has the Languedoc in southern France, not too far from its original home. Part fermented in barrel, this is a fine, easy-drinking variety which with 13.5% alcohol is balanced and silky smooth. The nose has some of the almond and creaminess of the oak, but vivid peach and apricot fruit along with hints of ginger spice. In the mouth a very nice Seville orange or pink grapefruit acidity drives through the succulent fruit to a long, not too dry finish. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2020) From the Languedoc, some nice lees ageing is obvious on this Pinot Gris, giving a gentle breadiness of aroma and flavour and more texture than your average Grigio. There's a touch of exotic fruit on the nose as well as spiced apple and fresh pear, the palate showing some weight and mouth-filling texture, more of that white fruit flavour edging into tropical, with good acidity that takes a grip of the finish and sharpens things up. The headline price is a little steep, but knowing Majestic you will pick it up for £8 or £9 regularly.
(2019) Picpoul may be relatively unknown when compared with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, but over the past few years it has come from nowhere to be something of a crowd-pleasing favourite. This is typical in many ways, relatively simple and upfront, down-the-line easy to drink but fresh fruit - pear and lemon - and balance on the palate with a bit of concentration and texture, and fine acidity to set off fish and seafood. It's actually a very good, quite concentrated example, of a variety that tends to deliver very good wine without any real fireworks. £10.35 to Daily Drinker Club members.
(2019) Made for Majestic by James Kinglake of Domaine Begude, a domaine in the Limoux region of the Languedoc. Limoux majors on Chardonnay, both still and sparkling, and I guess some or most of the fruit comes from Limoux, but in fact this is an IGP Pays d'Oc, so some or all could have come from a wider area around. Fresh and unoaked, but limpid and with a creamy richness from lees ageing, this has a lightly buttery character but lovely balance and pitch, citrus and crisp apple against lightly nutty tones and always hints of a more exotic fruit ripeness. The finish is restrained and clear as a bell, in a stylish wine that is £8.99 as part of a mixed six bottles at Majestic.
(2018) Marsanne is a traditional grape of the Rhône Valley in France, though it is relatively rare to see it bottled as a single varietal wine. This example from Paul Mas's 'La Forge' vineyard in the Languedoc is truly lovely, perhaps picked just a little earlier than some to retain it agility and freshness. What a beguiling nose, a bowlful of ripe pears and peaches, tiny Riesling-like floral and wax nuances, and a hint of oatmeal and almond from partial barrel ageing. Round, succulent and fleshy-fruity on the palate, there is texture and a little spice and toast, but it's clean as a whistle into the finish. Lovely on its own, but could take everything from Chinese food to white fish in its stride. £8.99 in Majestic on a mixed-six deal at time of review. Watch the video for more information.
(2017) The white wines of the Rhône Valley in France tend to be big and powerful, full and expressive grapes like Roussanne and Viognier delivering quite heady wines. Here in the Languedoc Paul Mas has blended those with the local Vermentino and Grenache Blanc, part barrel-fermented, to produce a similarly generous style. Aromas of vanilla, honeysuckle and peach lead on to a full, broad palate that is all about super-sweet and plush, fleshy fruit married to a rounded, background acidity that makes this quite fat and feel quite low in acid, but there is a core of steel in there, the sweet hint of the barrel also adding a layer of complexity. The price is £12.99 as part of a mixed six from Majestic.
(2016) From the Co-op behind the Sieur d'Arques brand, this Chardonnay shows a little age to the colour, and quite a lot of oak. There's a chance this sample is not perfect, for what's in the glass feels fruity, oaky, but just a little tired. I'd reserve judgement until tasting again.
(2015) The single vineyard for this wine is located in the western Languedoc, at between 400m and 500m above sea level, on limestone and clay which is claimed to produce ripening conditions similar to those in Chablis ( where Laroche is based, though in fact Michel Laroche is no longer in charge and the brand is now part of a larger company). It seems heavily oak influenced to me however, and quite un-Chablis-like, with toast and vanilla and touches of tropical fruit. In the mouth it does have a juicy, lively character, again the fruit teeters on the pineapple and tropical, with a touch of baked apple pie, but acidity is refreshing. 87
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