It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted anything French wine related – but it’s never far from my mind (or lips). Not only do I love learning about wine, drinking wine and traveling to wine regions – but I also enjoy passing on a bit of knowledge and special events along to you.
In May, I had the pleasure of visiting the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region, which is known for its quality and selection of wine, and it happens to be one of the oldest and largest wine regions in France.
So, when I was invited to preview Pays d’Oc IGP wines (which are the BEST wines of that same area) to kick off Pays d’Oc Wine Week, of course my answer was a big Oui Oui!
Pays d’Oc IGP is the first and the oldest quality designation of wine in France and has been around for 25 years. It’s not to be confused with the Languedoc-Roussillon, which is a region. Or Sud de France, which is more of a marketing brand. All of labels encompass wine in the South of France, but only Pays d’Oc IGP represents a prestigious quality control. In fact, only about 10% of French wine have this distinction.
The strength of Pays d’Oc lies in its varietals, over 56 to be exact. The wines are all so diverse, there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone’s palate.
Out of the 840 million Pays d’Oc bottles a year produced the breakdown is
- 50% Red
- 30% Rosé
- 20% White
While many wine lovers would love to drink Chablis, Bordeaux or Burgundy all day, every day, most of these wines are priced for special occasions and it can be daunting to select just the right bottle. These days, people need to be able to pick up a good quality, easy drinking bottle of wine for everyday. This is another area where wines from the Pays d’Oc excel. They are all very affordable, with a good QPR (quality price ratio). You can pair them with dinner, an aperitif or just sip them on their own.
Easy. Simple. Unfussy. Tasty. Affordable. This describes Pays d’Oc wines perfectly. And it describes why they are some of my favorite wines to seek out.
Over the course of my lunch at Balvanera, we tasted nine bottles – an assortment of red, white and a rosé. The rock star Argentinian chef, Fernando Navas, created a mouth-watering selection of dishes including empanadas, sweetbreads, steak, carrot salad, sautéed mushrooms with poached egg and even dessert. Seriously, they were each extraordinary. And the chosen wines paired perfectly with everything, proving that Pays d’Oc wine is indeed food-friendly and can make both carnivores and vegetarians very happy.
Some of the standout wines for me were:
Gerard Bertrand Gris Blanc 2014 – a nice crisp rosé. Pale pink in color and tastes very fresh with a hint of minerality. The Grenache grapes are hand-picked. I’m very familiar with this reliable producer. Pick up anything you find from them.
Seigneur Jean de Roze Chardonnay 2014 – I’m not a fan of big oaky California Chardonnay. I much prefer Chablis, but for about half the price this unoaked, food-friendly wine shouldn’t be missed.
Figure Libre Cabernet Franc 2011 – I love a good Cab Franc, and most I’ve had come from the Loire Valley. I didn’t even realize a good Cab Franc could come from the South of France. The fact that it’s a biodiverse wine means you’ll pay a bit more for a bottle, but it’s worth it for this aromatic, authentic and impressive wine.
If you’ll be in New York City from November 2nd – 8th, 2015 you can discover Pays d’Oc wines during Pays d’Oc Wine Week. Over 25 restaurants will be participating – including the fabulous Balvanera, which is where my lunch took place.
Can’t get to NYC for wine week? Why not head out to your local wine shop and buy a bottle. Pop by and let me know which one you tried and what you thought.