Last Updated on April 28, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
Fresh Tastes from the Languedoc
As the weather tempts us with the promise of summer I’ve been starting to eat outdoors as much as possible; firstly, to be able to socialise under lockdown rules but secondly because food and drink always seem to taste better al fresco. We were asked to review 3 bottles of wines from Les Vignobles Foncalieu, a French wine co-op founded in 1967 with 650 winegrowers, that is already selling five million bottles annually in the UK. Les Vignobles Foncalieu is based in the heart of Languedoc where they manage 4,000 hectares of vineyards situated ‘from the Corbières massif to the banks of the Mediterranean, from the Mistral- swept hillsides to the sun-caressed plains between Carcassonne and Béziers’. It’s the oldest wine-making region in the world and with mild winters and hot summers and a multitude of terroirs the region showcases many well-known grape varieties. But as we found it’s also a location that is starting to innovate with new grape varieties as weather patterns change.
With attractive labels, all the wines are made with organically grown grapes and all Foncalieu-labelled wines are vegan. We started with a white Chardonnay- Cardounettes vin biologique Pays d’Oc 2020 (£7.10). Grown in vineyards near Béziers on clay-limestone soil, the wine has a pale lemon-yellow hue with a hint of green and is named after a little goldfinch from the Occitan and the thistle seeds they love to feast on. It would be perfect for Mediterranean dishes or as an aperitif, with white blossom on the nose and a honeyed peach flavour.
Vignobles Foncalieu are a major player in the rosé wine market so it made sense to move onto a rosé – Griset vin biologique Pays d’Oc 2020 (£9.50). Unusually made from the rare pink-skinned Sauvignon Gris grape which is grown in the Ensérune and Puichéric terroirs, the wine is given its colour by a few hours of skin contact and is then aged for 5 months in stainless steel. It has a subtle copper peach colour, citrus and tropical fruit notes and a herbal finish. With a well-balanced acidity, its freshness would again make a lovely aperitif or match beautifully with poultry, raw fish dishes such as sushi or ceviche or even a nutty Comté cheese.
Our final tasting was of a red called NU.VO.TÉ (£9.95) meaning novelty, the first cuvée grown from new grape varietals Artaban and Vidoc to meet the challenges of global warming. The organic grapes are grown in hot, dry, gravelly soil and given a 2-week maceration process as well as undergoing malolactic fermentation. Ruby red in colour and tasting of blueberries and violet this easy-drinking red should be drunk with beef and it will stand up to a chilli con carne, tacos, kebabs and tapas. We loved it with some ripe camembert!
Let’s hope we have some great weather this summer to enjoy these progressive and affordable wines.
NU.VO.TE is on sale in the UK from FIELD AND FAWCETT WINE MERCHANTS at £9,95. Other Foncalieu wines can be bought from the Les Vignobles Foncalieu online shop if you can arrange shipping from France or from a variety of online stockists.