The south of France enjoys a certain reputation. Tell anyone that’s where you’re headed, and they’ll probably picture you enjoying champagne on a superyacht flanked by the ultrarich and European aristocracy. But the south of France isn’t all about obscene luxury on the Riviera.
Despite not having the same reputation as premier French regions like Burgundy, Bordeaux, or Champagne, the Languedoc is a region whose star has continued to rise since the late 90s. Within the French wine scene, Languedoc has made progress as more vignerons switch from supplying bulk grapes to local cooperatives to making wines of their own. Over recent years, Terrasses du Larzac and Picpoul de Pinet have gained AOC status, a sign that the quality of wine from the South of France is on a par with the rest of the country.
The quality is there in spades, but you need to know where to look.
And if you were to look in the area around Assas, north of Montpellier, you’d be on the right track. If you looked hard enough, that’s where you would find Domaine Clavel.
Domaine Clavel is run by Pierre Clavel and his wife Estelle with help from their two sons, Antoine and Martin. Pierre is the first of his family to make wine at Domaine Clavel, but his father Jean Clavel is an important figure in the history of wine in the south of France. Jean is a wine historian and was director of the local winemakers’ organisation, the Syndicat des Coteaux du Languedoc. What’s more, Jean is the man responsible for the creation of the Coteaux du Languedoc appellation. With Jean’s input and Pierre’s accumulated experience, there’s a huge amount of knowledge going into the wines at Domaine Clavel.
That’s probably why they’re so good.
Les Garrigues is named after the wild scrubland of aromatic herbs that is so typical of the Languedoc. And like the scrubland, this wine exemplifies the region. It’s a blend of traditional Southern grapes: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre and is full of the typical flavours of the region. There are blackberries, damsons, prunes and dates with undertones of herbs and warming spices. It’s a beautiful wine that’s particularly suited to Autumn and would suit anything from a hearty stew to game and charred meat.
And while it’s a completely different style of wine, Domaine Des Cadastres Picpoul De Pinet represents the south of France with just as much flair as Les Garrigues.
Domaine Des Cadastres Picpoul De Pinet is made by Claude Jourdan at Domain Félines Jourdan close to Mèze, the oyster cap
ital of the Languedoc. And following the adage that “things that grow together, go together”, this Picpoul De Pinet is fantastic with oysters (as well as most other molluscs). Félines Jourdan’s Domaine Des Cadastres vineyard is just a stone’s throw from the Étang de Thau lagoon, and this maritime influence is clear. The wine is rich and zesty with lemony flavours and a little seawater minerality. Personally, I think Domaine Des Cadastres Picpoul De Pinet would be an exciting option to pair with a seafood starter on Christmas Day.
If you want to taste it, or Domaine Clavel Les Garrigues, before then, they’ll both be open from Monday 9th of October in our shops in Arnotts and Mullingar.