The Sud de France Top 100 competition is now open for entries. Taking place for the ninth year, it goes from strength to strength in representing the best that Occitanie can offer – winemaking quality, appeal and good value from the region.
The competition is back for 2021 after it was put on hold in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It relaunches with a brand new programme of activities which features online and live event opportunities as the year progresses, to introduce these wines widely in the UK trade.
The Sud de France Top 100 is a dedicated showcase for the best wines of the year from Occitanie. This includes the vineyards of Languedoc, Roussillon, most of the South West and a few wines from the Rhone Valley (Lirac, Costieres de Nimes etc.).
Around 600 wines are entered from producers and narrowed down to just 100 during a rigorous blind tasting by a panel of leading industry experts, chaired by Tim Atkin MW. A broad range of on and off-trade buyers, sommeliers, journalists and writers are selected to taste and re-taste to agree which wines make it into the Top 100.
The awarded wines participate and benefit from a comprehensive calendar of tastings and promotions. This includes a media plan with Harpers Wine & Spirit and a stand at the new digital London Wine Fair in May.
How to enter your wines
Registration is open only to producers, so the same wine can’t be entered twice. However, importers and distributors can encourage their agencies to enter.
Closing date is 17 March
To enter, please visit the page
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The best wines from the South of France are celebrated in The Top 100 Awards. For both the trade and consumers, it is a definitive list of memorable, crafted, vibrant wines to look out for. Tim Atkin MW is chairman of the judges, and here he talks about the competition and what it seeks to do
Which aspects impress you when judging this full array of entries?
Two things above all. The improving quality, year on year, and the sheer diversity of wine styles this region produces. There are entire countries that are more homogenous than Occitanie.
What kind of wines do the judges rate most highly?
We look for wines with personality and individuality, wines that have a sense of place. It’s an over-used word these day, but balance is important too. As a group, I’d say we’re less impressed by power and lashings of new oak, and partial to balance and harmony. We don’t taste the samples with food, but we have one eye on the table, as it were.
Wines from Occitanie are stocked by virtually every quality merchant. Which styles from the Languedoc- Roussillon and the Sud-Ouest should make the foundation of such a list?
Make the most of that diversity, I say, and also of the value for money that
Occitanie offers. The varietal wines are great and, where more “international” grapes are concerned, have helped to increase its profile, but don’t miss out on lesser-known “local” grapes such as Négrette, Fer Servadou, Vermentino and Gros Manseng, or on blends, which are really exciting at their best. Mediterranean red blends are arguably the standout category in the region. For new things, keep an eye on Albariño, the improving rosés and Pinot Noir.
What makes this huge region continue to be so highly regarded
by and essential to merchants and sommeliers?
Diversity and value for money, most of all. But it’s also a very beautiful region to visit with real tourist potential. And it’s easy to get to, so merchants and sommeliers can visit for themselves and have a look at the different terroirs, appellations and IGPs.
Are there recent developments in the region which have helped the winemaking improve?
Less focus on new oak in some of the top wines has been a positive development for me. And also the recognition that Carignan can be a wonderful grape when it’s grown in the right place.
Over the time you have been chair of the judges, what are the main changes you have seen among the
wines entered each year?
A gradual, but impressive improvement. As the region’s image has improved, so more top producers are investing there and producing what, at their best, are exceptional wines. I think the value for money has
got better and better, too. These are wines that often over-deliver.
What is the significance of the annual Top 100 to consumers?
It’s a curated list, chosen by people who know the region well
and understand its wine styles. It’s also important that most of the top
producers enter, so we have the luxury of picking 100 really good wines from those that we taste on the day.
The annual Languedoc-Roussillon/Sud Ouest Sud de France Top 100 tasting, chaired by Master of Wine Tim Atkin, is popular with tasters precisely because of the exciting array of wine styles being shown from across this broad and very geographically diverse region.
Taking place in the sun-slaked studios of The Worx in southwest London, the day begins with an expectant hush as the judges gather and are assigned to a table and tasting team. Tasting sheets at the ready, pens poised, palates primed, the flights of wines then began to emerge, placed in neat rows on the tables, with no more information offered than the broader region of origin of the wines.
It’s here that the years of experience and knowledge, the expertise and analytical skills of the best tasters kicks in.
As with past events, some of the best in the business were on hand to judge this year’s Top 100.
They included consultant Peter McCombie MW, wine writer and southern French expert Rosemary George MW, specialist importer Nik Darlington of Red Squirrel Wine, critic Anthony Rose, blogger Jamie Goode, Fullers wine buyer Neil Bruce, Bibendum buying director Andrew Shaw, along with several other trade luminaries and communicators besides.
First up was crisp, palate-freshening line up of fashionable Picpoul – a good start to the day. The pace then picked up, with IGP Chardonnay, other IGP whites, IGP Grenache-based rosé, IGP reds, AOC white Languedoc, AOC red Rhone, AOC red Pic Saint Loup, AOC red Minnervois and AOC red Saint Chinian all in a mornings work.
What also makes this an enjoyable challenge is that some 2/3rds of the wines don’t currently have a UK importer. Top 100 is designed to shine a light on what the region has to offer, and it certainly achieves this aim.
Thus, for both buyers and journalists in the room, there’s a real sense of discovery – which adds an element of intrigue to proceedings when you’ve unearthed a real gem and then have to wait until the end of the day to find out what is was that knocked you out (in a good way).
There’s also no conferring among the judges, until the end of a flight, when scores and notes are already written, unless a bottle is deemed faulty and a second sample is called into play. However, as the Sud de France Top 100 competition works by elevating the very best from several hundred wines entered, the judges do then get busy comparing scores and discussing – if there are any wines hanging in the balance – which samples should be put forward as being worthy of making the final cut.
My team was led by the highly experienced taster and judge Charles Metcalf, who gave equal weighting to all comments and arguments as to whether a wine was worthy or not and should go through. If we couldn’t agree, or a wine was just teetering on the edge of ‘in’ or ‘out’, then that sample ended up on a table with any other similar styles from other tables’ flights, to be reassessed against the quality of those that had definitely made the grade.
As said, it’s hard if enjoyable work, so a welcome bite of lunch and chance to catch up on trade gossip allows the palate to recover from the onslaught of the morning. Chips are all too tempting when you’ve tasted through so many wines, soothing the tastebuds with addictive ease.
Then it’s back to work again, with another 10 flights, covering various Languedoc and other southern French styles, including well-known AOC’s including Corbieres, Faugeres and the very good whites from Limoux, plus another fresh flight of rosés.
The overall quality, as the judges agreed, was high, with the tasting also re-impressing on all the incredible diversity available from the Mediterranean-influenced southern regions under scrutiny.
We hope you’ll agree if you know or taste any of these wines – it’s a cracking selection, covering pretty much all bases, from enjoyable, easy-drinking whites, reds and rosés, to complex and quite sublime food-friendly styles that can sit with the best in the world.Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment
Are you looking for wines with “personnality and individuality” that “overdeliver”?
Those words are not from us but from Tim Atkin who chaired a panel of 15 judges at the Sud de France Langedoc Roussillon/South West Top 100 competition. With 37 different apellations and over 30 grapes represented, the Top 100 reflects truly the huge diversity of styles and appellations of the new Occitanie region in the south of France.
The good news for you is that two thirds of the Top 100 wines are not distributed in the UK and we are are offering a mixed case of 6 bottles in order to help you to source new wines.
To order your case of wine, you need to register here and choose the wine you wish to receive (limited stocks apply). Once you have tasted the wines, we will just ask you to give some feeback on each wine you received.
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The celebration year starts with the opportunity to taste all new Top 100 wines and meet producers at the London Wine Fair 22-25 May 2017. A nationwide campaign will assist wine merchants and restaurants to market these wines, as the competition showcases the diversity and quality from Occitanie (including the Languedoc-Roussillon vineyards as well as part of the Rhône Valley and the South-West), the biggest wine growing region in France. The campaign follows through with a consumer tastings programme. www.suddefrancetop100.co.uk
The Top 100 encourages producers of all sizes to show their best wines without restrictive criteria such as pricing bands. This has created a welcome environment for open-minded judging and attracts an impressive panel of judges. The campaign actively promotes the distribution and availability of these Top 100 wines in the UK via on and off-trade outlets. It also encourages consumers to taste and buy these wines and continue to discover more wines from the region.
The expanded region is the world’s largest wine producing region, with a growing reputation for exceptional quality wines at a variety of price points. In this landmark fifth year, the Sud de France – Languedoc-Roussillon / Sud-Ouest Top 100 competition not only helps the wine trade choose from some of the best appellations and terroirs made with a large array of international and indigenous grape varieties, it also reaches out to consumers.
The blind tasting by a panel of leading experts chaired by Tim Atkin MW took place 10 April 2017 in London.
You can browse them all here.Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment
With an expanded vineyard area and more grape varieties in the
mix, this year’s Sud de France competition really put the judges
through their paces
In its annual quest to find the best wines from one of the world’s most exciting regions, this year’s Sud de France Top 100 competition once again wowed the judges with a stunning range of top-quality reds, whites, rosés and sparklers.
Now in its fifth year, the competition was bigger than ever as the area covered by Sud de France has been expanded, so the wines come from even more diverse terroir and grape varieties.
And the expert judges who blind tasted all the wines to come up with the definitive 100 were unanimous in their conclusion that there has been a consistent upturn in quality from the region over the course of the competition.
Broadcaster and writer Oz Clark said: “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.”
And BBC Food and Drink presenter Joe Wadsack agreed, saying: “All categories have become more consistent over the five years of the Top 100 competition. There is genuinely a difference, and any obvious mistakes, such as over-oaking, are now eradicated. There is plenty I would enjoy drinking.
The job of judging is getting harder every year.” In a new twist this year, all the judges – who also included chairman Tim Atkin, the Wine Gang’s Anthony Rose, and writers Charles Metcalfe and Simon Woods – were asked to select their personal favourite coup de coeur wines, rather than award trophies, so they were looking for the wines they would enjoy drinking themselves, thus giving a personal point of reference when it comes to the top picks. In addition, there are still Best of Show Red and White wines and, for the first time this year, a Best in Show Rosé.
All the wines – which cover 25 domaines new to the Top 100 – will be available to taste across the country during roadshow events, including a week of tastings around Bastille Day on July 14.
Promotional work is also planned, either in-store or with online merchants, to further raise the profile of these exciting wines among consumers.
Forty per cent of the competition’s wines are available in the UK, with 83% costing above £10 RRP and 40% above £15.
Sud de France food & wine promotions manager Sébastien du Boullay said: “These are all premium wines which over-deliver at their price points.”
Once again the Sud de France Top 100 competition has shown that the region is one of
the most exciting and diverse in the world, with wines that showcase the skills of their producers in reflecting the terroir and honouring the grapes.
In the words of chairman of the judges Tim Atkin: “Southern French reds are some of the most exciting and individual in France, showing a real sense of place. But the whites are really catching up.
It’s not just the best varietal wines – Chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc – but the blends that are worth seeking out, especially those that make the most of Mediterranean grapes.”
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?
How to enter
Please note that only wine producers are eligible to register. If you are a wine importer or distributor, please contact your wine suppliers and encourage them to enter.
To register: http://suddefrance.co.uk/top100/
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The 2015 Top 100 results are now official, having been launched today at the London International Wine Fair by none other than Jury Chairman Tim Atkin MW. Back in April with the help of 20 leading wine industry experts, 100 wines were selected out of 600, and of those 19 trophies were awarded. You can browse them all here.Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment
How has the Sud de France Languedoc-Roussillon Top 100 competition evolved during the three years you have been chairman of the judging panel?
The Top 100 has grown from an already established competition and now fully celebrates the wines and character of this complex and individual region. The wines are attracting more and more wine merchants, and consumer drinkers are ready to explore the Languedoc-Roussillon more adventurously. The competition is very well supported by the producers and our judges, and it helps sell the wines effectively. Many of our judging panel are very committed and keen to return each year. We are always discovering fresh new wine names. There is now also an increasing number of higher-end wines being entered, alongside familiar, very reliable brands which are able to produce consistent wines in bigger volumes.
How do you recommend starting to get to grips with appreciating this vast and diverse region?
Nobody can copy wines that are made to reflect terroir. Go down the varietal route and also look at the IGP wines where grape variety is the doorway to the wine. New World wines are leading the way back to this too. Most trophies in the Top 100 were chosen from designated regions, and there were outstanding wines among the blends too during our judging day.
What is so dynamic about the Languedoc-Roussillon region right now?
The modern Languedoc-Roussillon is full of history but it is not old. It is a relatively young wine region and so much of it is yet to be discovered by wine consumers. It has really developed in the past 20 years and has changed massively and rapidly. There are many new producers and styles of wine being made. The region is huge; twice the size of Bordeaux. Imagine the diversity when you have a landscape that ranges from high altitude through to terraces and plains. The best winemaking there is reflected in wines which give that sense of place and also those which are skilful blends – some of the best reds are blends. Look at the Piquepoul and Syrahs; explore the wines of Corbières and Saint-Chinian.
What can we look forward to next in the style of winemaking, experimentation and the wines becoming available on the market?
There has been huge improvement in quality year on year. We have seen this in the 2012s, 2013s and 2014s in the competition. Languedoc-Roussillon does not intend to make the most experimental wines, but you will see marginal movements. The region is maturing and the new winemakers are gaining so much experience. You will see every single winemaking style, including sparkling and fortified wines, and over 30 grape varieties. Supermarkets and multiples have embraced Piquepoul and Corbières, but could do better in offering more diversity. This gives great opportunity for independent merchants. Generally in the on-trade, wider representation is needed. There is so much value for money to be found.
What are judges looking for in compiling the Top 100 and naming the trophy winners?
We are looking for very skilfully, well made wines. Many of the wines we settled on were blends. The judges are delighted to see big-name domains, and we are also excited to discover new names that we have never seen before, going through to the trophy line up. In terms of regions, we have a wine from Terrasses du Larzac, two from Côtes du Roussillon, a wine from La Clape – one of the most historic areas – a AOC Faugères; also a Muscat sec and a AOC Languedoc Pic Saint-Loup blend. The two top trophies have been awarded to a AOC Corbières blanc and a AOC Saint-Chinian.
What do Brits really like about Languedoc-Roussillon wines?
Prices continue to be very appealing. Consumers are increasingly buying into individual names, but still have some way to go in becoming fully familiar with the region. However, it is one of the easiest to promote. The countryside is beautiful, many people are enjoying relaxing holidays there and there is plenty of south of France sunshine. What a great memory to associate good wines with.Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment
The Sud de France Languedoc-Roussillon Top 100 has evolved into one of the most anticipated annual wine competitions. In March, a panel of some of the UK’s star writers, authors, buyers and sommeliers tasted, judged and shortlisted outstanding wines from one of the world’s most diverse and progressive wine regions – the Languedoc-Roussillon
Mention the south of France and everyone has a story. Many have enjoyed gourmet holidays in the historic towns and explored the picturesque wine countryside, and their thirst for a return visit is totally understandable. The Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the greatest destinations for easily accessible wine tourism, and the wine trade and enthusiasts are fast discovering the diversity, value and quality presented by the numerous wine styles, grape varieties and blends.
In this vast stretch, from the Mediterranean to the more western reaches with an Atlantic influence, lie such different and distinctive terrains, altitudes and microclimates, which shape one of the world’s largest winemaking regions. It can achieve with remarkable success what other French wine regions do traditionally well and stick to, plus it offers so much more of its own recent creation.
What the Languedoc-Roussillon offers is a dynamic harmony of well-backed, big-name brands through to boutique small-production wineries. Their mutual vision of a distinctive regional style comes together in wines which are reliably good value with easy appeal, yet have a distinctive character that give a sense of place. New discoveries, plus more and more top-end wines becoming available, give fresh opportunity to appreciate skilful winemaking and help spread the reputation of the region on a world-class level.
Over 30 indigenous grape varieties thrive in the south of France and there is plenty of freedom in winemaking styles. No wonder that it has sometimes been tricky to grasp fully what the strengths, charms and potential of the region really are.
During the intensive day of judging in London, the panel summed up their views and gave some pointers as to what the trade can get excited by in the new Top 100. Most importantly, the Top 100 is about much more than accolades and certificates. It steps up to being a year-round campaign to help introduce the wines into UK distribution and encourage consumers to buy them.
The mood of the judging was vibrant and fast-paced. With such informed and enthusiastic comments coming from every member of the judging panel, it was easy to streamline their views into a handy snapshot of the best of the Languedoc-Roussillon. The judges championed the easy character and drinkability of many of the wines, alongside diversity and accessible price points, and found plenty to recommend.
The 2014 Top 100 results are now official, having been launched today at the London International Wine Fair by none other than Jury Chairman Tim Atkin MW. Back in April with the help of 18 leading wine industry experts, 100 wines were selected out of 664, and of those 15 trophies were awarded. You can browse them all here.Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment
The biggest surprise of this year’s Top 100 was the incredible quality of the region’s white wines. 40% of this year’s Top 100 wines are white wines, which is incredible given that whites account for only 13% of the region’s wine production. Even jury member Rosemary George MW commented on this when writing about her experience judging the Top 100 in her blog http://tastelanguedoc.blogspot.co.uk. Having noted that the best flight she tasted during the judging was white, she says: “It makes me think that the whites of the Languedoc are too often overlooked and under-appreciated, and really should be taken much more seriously. They stand very happily alongside the reds”.Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment
The Top 100 wines are making their way across the UK to London, Bath, York and Edinburgh for a series of wine shows. For the first time since the Top 100’s launch back in May, members of the public will finally get their change to taste some of the Top 100 wines. Sud de France will be at the following wine shows showcasing this year’s crop of Top 100 wines:
27-28 September 2014, York, The Three Wine Men
15 November 2014, London, The Wine Gang
22 November 2014, Bath, The Wine Gang
29 November 2014, Edinburgh, The Wine Gang
6-7 December 2014, London, The Three Wine Men