MOST DYNAMIC FRENCH REGION
A Q&A with Tim Atkin MW explains how the Top 100 competition
has evolved over the years and why it is so important
Tim Atkin MW, chairman of the judges, rounds up why the Top 100 continues to be an exciting landmark in the year of wine competitions.
Celebrating five years, it is a neat snapshot of the best wines from the South of France and what to look for.
How has the Top 100 competition evolved?
We are tasting better-made red wines with less oak and there is a slight
shift away from varietal wines. More wines have a discernible sense of
place in my view. We are also seeing more blended wines, which is what
the region does best, especially when it comes to the reds. This year the
competition expands westwards and I hope we will continue to see more
wines from Gascony, Cahors and the Pyrénées in the next few years.
Has the image of the region progressed?
The general perception of wines from the South of France has improved.
Winemaking in the region is evolving fast and the region deserves to
become more well known.
Is the region still the most dynamic in France?
Yes, it has an exciting energy about it. Occitanie is certainly large and
complex – and it is improving with every vintage. I love the fact that it
still has so much untapped potential.
What is the best way to begin to appreciate the wines of this vast
and diverse region?
Start away from the international grape varieties, such as Merlot and Cabernet.
Instead, seek out the Mediterranean grapes such as Cinsault, Vermentino
and Bourboulenc. There is plenty to discover. My best advice is simply, go
there. It is one of the world’s most beautiful vine growing regions. The
mountains, the plains and the sea reflect how the wines taste. Go and
enjoy the food and local hospitality, then concentrate on a few of the
What are the judges looking for in defining the Top 100?
Above all, we choose wines we would enjoy drinking. Having a
proportion of new judges every year ensures a different approach and
perception of what the region is right now. Instead of trophies this year, we
asked judges to select their personal favourite coup de coeur wine. It
is a democratic way to identify outstanding wines and allows an
element of freedom and surprise.
What do Brits really like about wines from the South of France?
Enjoying wine is very much part of a relaxed holiday and lifestyle. More
people are exploring the diversity of the region and its broad range of
wines. Still, more awareness needs to be built around appellations, especially
now there is more to discover in the newly expanded Occitanie. Would
you believe, it covers an eighth of the whole of France?