“Every year brings different trends. The quality of the blended red wines entered were especially noticeable, but there is still more opportunity for fortifieds and rosés”.
“Far more good wines are being entered. Winemakers have gone past an obsession to make big beast wines, and are going back to making what we can drink with pleasure. I like those made with southern grapes; they create powerful, proud flavours. There is a sense of mineral, rocky, rough hewn flavours, and there are exceptional wines from the mountain slopes, or deep valleys where the vine struggles”.
“I’ve enjoyed the white Corbières and Faugères flight. The wines show freshness and a wide aromatic spectrum. They have improved a lot stylistically, leading to brighter, more lively, but also more diverse wines .”
“Amongst the 2015s there is tremendous potential in the reds. There has been a lot of experimentation, and now is the time to settle down more. From the samples I’ve tasted today, the best performers are the traditional ones, Syrah, Grenache Noir and Carignan Noir, sometimes bolstered by Mourvèdre”.
“The Picpoul de Pinet is generally of a good standard: nice and refreshing and doing the job that dry whites should do – to go well with seafood and shellfish. The white blends are promising, especially the chardonnay, viognier and roussanne, and the Rhône-style whites are amongst the best in the group I tasted. There are some well-made varietal cabernet sauvignons, and the rosés have more depth, weight and fruit character than in previous years.”
“The South of France has un-mined potential. It is full of inexpensive gems and wines at ordinary prices. Many of those under £15 sit comfortably alongside Rhône and Bordeaux wines. The whites and blended wines are getting exciting. Notable were the Bourboulenc, Viognier and Grenache blanc wines”.
“One of the aspects I love is the diversity of flavours. We tried some excellent sparkling wines along with whites that varied from crisp and fresh through to rich and fragrant. The best reds have lovely perfume, complexity and richness, and there seems to be a welcome move away from the body-builder style towards something more nuanced and better balanced.”
“The white wines from Languedoc using Mediterranean grape varietals stood out. New wineries manage to introduce new flavour profiles, whilst still preserving the unique style of the region. The Grenache blanc wines will certainly fill a gap on the shelf.”
“The floral, fragrant white wines of the Languedoc showed really well this year. In particular, Viognier was very strong. Of the reds, Saint Chinian really stood out for me, combining the typical power and grace of the region in an eminently drinkable style. What I love about the wines from the South is that when done well they are rich and full-bodied but with finesse and good drinkability.”
“Some of the Limoux whites are fabulous; they are world-class wines that would even go up against whites from Burgundy. Faugères is a stand-out region. The wines are so clearly different with such identity and polish, poise and character.”
“The delicious red wines have complex flavours and are so evocative of the South of France. You can taste the ripe fruits, warmth and sunshine. The Viogniers and Viognier blends also stand out. For consumers wishing to explore more, seek out different appellations to enjoy the variety. Also look to the AOC wines which have more precision and lower yields.”
“We often put the reds ahead but I really loved the whites this year. There is plenty of choice in the region now from fruity wines for immediate pleasure to more serious whites with something to chew on without breaking the bank.”
“This exciting region has lots of diversity. You get something extra – the terroir. They are food-friendly wines, and there is value for money. It is certainly a good place for consumers to look. The wines are punching above their price point. The flight of Corbières on our judging table is impressive in style and character.”
“Thinking there’d be lots of reds to taste, I actually find it’s the white wines which stand out. They are the most exciting category; they are both broad and focused. The Top 100 is very educational, and useful in benchmarking, to compare regions.”
“Several flights really stand out, including the merlot varietals. The Top 100 competition is very useful for me as it enables me to compare my own stock and what I’m currently buying. Here on awards day, I can taste from a dozen or so suppliers from Languedoc”
“Some appellations really stand out with a well developed sense of identity. This was particularly the case for Faugères, which really stood out. As for the whites, I am impressed by the Viogniers and Chardonnays; you can taste the sun in these wines. Some of the Limoux has a delightful mineral character from altitude and the subtle use of oak.”
“Wines have developed their regional character. You can see the clear difference in the Limoux, Saint-Chinian and Faugères. They can be enjoyed at an entry level through to higher price points. The whites especially have character; the Vermentino and the Viognier.”