For decadeseven centuriesmuch of the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region was forgettable. But over the past 10 to 20 years, there's been a boom in quality here, with ambitious winemakers and growers producing impressive reds and whites, still at affordable prices.
Languedoc: Main Varietals
Earlier this year, an Italian nursery sold 170,000 Sangiovese vinesthe signature grape of Tuscany to growers in the Languedoc's Herault region. It's the first time French farmers have planted Sangiovese, other than on the island of Corsica.
2010 Domaine Sainte Eugenie Le Clos ($10) The large amount of Merlot in this spicy blend adds a subtle herbal note. It's from the little-known vin de pays de Hauterive region.
2009 Col des Vents Corbieres ($12) A rich, blackberry-inflected red, this blend of Carignane, Grenache and Syrah comes from the Castelmaure cooperative in Corbières.
2007 Hecht & Bannier Languedoc ($12) This négociant firm (they purchase wine from smaller producers, then blend and bottle it) makes their mocha-scented red solely from organic grapes.
2010 HB Picpoul de Pinet ($10) Crisp lime-zest notes are the hallmark of this light, refreshing white made from the Picpoul grape.
2010 La Noble Chardonnay ($12) Hand-Picked Selections, a top US importer, blends this peachy, unoaked Chardonnay to its own specifications, using fruit from cool vineyards near Limoux and Pic St. Loup.
2009 Domaine Cazes Le Canon du Maréchal Muscat-Viognier ($15) A blend of very aromatic grape varieties gives this white a flamboyant (and quite seductive) floral and tangeriney scent.