The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2015

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Page 87 of 136

november 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  87 "W hatever the restaurant, those of us who are buyers of fine wines are always looking for wines of uniqueness and value," Michael Madrigale told a gathering of sommeliers recently at Bar Boulud in New York City, one of Chef Daniel Boulud's eateries for which Madrigale serves as head sommelier. "We are finding these wines in spades in Languedoc. In addition, Languedoc has a great diversity of wines." From 2009 to 2014, Languedoc exports grew 189% by volume and 211% by value to the U.S. market. Recently, the Languedoc AOP decided to promote the Crus du Languedoc, at the top of its classification pyra- mid, for increased penetration of the American on-premise market—Crus du Languedoc accounts for about 4% of the total AOP Languedoc production or about 0.5% of total Languedoc-Roussillon production. The New York tasting and lunch, sponsored by the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc (CIVL), was an invitation for attendees to explore the special sub-category of Languedoc's top wines known as the "Crus du Languedoc." Crus du Languedoc currently consists of six well-defined regions: • AOP Faugères, which can produce red and white wines; • AOPs Corbières-Boutenac, Minervois la Livinière, Saint-Chinian Berlou and Saint-Chinian Roquebrun, which can produce only red wines; and • AOP La Clape, which only gained its new status this summer and which can produce red or white wines. "Today there are six crus, but I predict in the future that we will grow to as many as 20 crus," CIVL President Frédéric Jeanjean told the group. The present crus were selected after long periods of study of their terroirs and winemaking histories, with the final determinations being made by France's wine-governing body, the Institut National de l'Origine et de la Qualité (INAO). Strict production and winemaking standards also apply. Seared arctic char, paired with Château Maris 2012 AOP Minervois la Livinière Daniel Beedle, Sommelier at Juni, attended the event celebrating the Crus du Languedoc wines. Madrigale pointed out that the Languedoc is one of France's most exciting and active winemaking regions in the new century. "There are a lot of new winemak- ers going to Languedoc from inside France and elsewhere to grow grapes," Madrigale said, mainly because of the availability of affordable land that is ideal for making wines. "The lack of rain in Languedoc is actually a blessing," he said, "because these dry conditions are ideal for organic and biodynamic production." Additionally, there is more freedom of choice as to which grapes to plant and to use in wine production than there is in more estab- lished French winemaking regions. The primary red grapes used to produce the wines of Languedoc are Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, while white grapes include Clairette, Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Mauzac, Muscat, Piquepoul, Rolle and Roussanne. In addition to being wines of high quality, the Crus du Languedoc are also affordable entries on restaurant wine lists. "At Boulud, the average bottle sale is about $70," Madrigale explained. "The average Languedoc cru is about $50 on the list, so they obviously hit a sweet spot for us. For wines by the glass, there is always a place for a very good $10 glass of red wine." In a discussion of the wines, som- melier Daniel Beedle of Juni restaurant in Manhattan's Hotel Chandler, says, "I like to use the wines of Languedoc when I do my pairings of wines for tastings" to give customers an opportunity to try them out.

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