Leading Languedoc: Jancis Robinson’s/Andrew Jefford’s in the FT and Updated Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate Best Producers List
It’s rare to see three serious overviews of the Languedoc-Roussillon by major critics in as many weeks. But Andrew Jefford, David Schildknecht and Jancis Robinson all have shared thoughts on the region, all naming La Peira as a top domaine of the region. (Full articles below)
Why this interest?
Who knows, but something about it brought to mind the piece of advice Gertrude Stein gave to Ernest Hemingway on buying art, back in the early 1920s when Philippe de Rothschild had just, for the first time, introduced the novel idea of an estate from the Medoc bottling its own wines, and the buying of wines of any quality was not such an issue for the pocket.
The advice: “You have to buy the people of your own age.”
Gertrude Stein’s advice to Ernest Hemingway on Buying Art from A Moveable Feast
It’s not even a question of price. Why buy a second-rate Cote Rotie, or an also-ran from the Medoc when one could buy say… a half case of l’Oustal Blanc (first-rate and one of the finest producers of its region)?
Why buy a wine from a domaine trading on history (that was never first-rate) when one could buy a wine from a domaine making history? Why not live in one’s own time? There is something distinctly incurious and middle-brow about always defaulting to the past when choosing (for example) what book to buy, or what opera to see, or what music to listen to.
Perhaps this focus on the Languedoc’s finest is a tonic to the relentless focus on the Bordeaux 2009 vintage, a vintage that neither the writers writing, nor most their readers reading can afford, nor in many a case will be able to wait to drink, and with possibly a dubious investment value.
Quotes on this subject are as ubiquitous as those frequent emails received from merchants enthusing about the unique merits of a new 2009 fourth growth release:
“I can’t afford to buy this beautiful wine in recent vintages, let alone historic ones; nor can the overwhelming majority of those who will read my articles.”
Kevin Zraly (in an interview with Grape Radio)
“Do you know what’s the end of an era? It’s that I can’t afford to buy those wines. I’m not spending $1000 dollars on a bottle of wine, if you want to buy it for me, I’ll give you my address…”
To Bordeaux I say “Adieu.” I’ve acquired a few cases of 2009s as a farewell, mostly within the mid-priced range, but know that it’s now over….I will no longer buy Bordeaux. Adieu!
Languedoc: Hope lies in hills for region on the up – Financial Times – Andrew Jefford
“The notion that anyone might buy Languedoc wines as an investment would have seemed laughable until very recently”, it continues: “It seems plausible to me that the best sites of the Languedoc might, a few decades hence, produce red wines to challenge the best from Côte Rôtie, Cornas and Châteauneuf. The range of varieties which flourish there is identical, and Languedoc wine at its best combines perfumed enchantment (a northern Rhône trait) with palate breadth and texture (more typical of southern Rhône warmth).”
The phrase “a few decades hence” is effectively the European equivalent of Martin Luther King’s “the fierce urgency of now.”
OK, fair enough, it’s a bit more “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” than “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” as far as stirring rhetoric goes.
A line from the latter runs: “whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent” and a domaine that takes thirty years to do so could be said to be lacking backbone and some gumption.
Readers may rest assured that (Groucho-like) we eschewed joining the comfortable ‘a-few-decades-hence’ club a little more than half a decade ago.
The full Financial Times Report- Buying and Investing in Wines can be seen here.
Hidden delights from the south of France – Financial Times – Jancis Robinson
“For wine consumers, especially those who like hand-crafted, highly individual wines that express the place where they were grown and are sensibly priced too, Languedoc-Roussillon is the perfect playground. For the region’s producers, however, life is far from playful.”
In truth, ‘Life is far from playful’ for most these days, from Goldman Sachs downward.
Life is rarely playful for a small business (which is what most quality AOC growers in the Languedoc are). Interesting, Decanter magazine published last week the news, Over half of AOC Bordeaux producers ‘suffering serious financial difficulties’ yet it would be hard to imagine an article that lumped the other half of that region in with the first.
Most quality AOC (or otherwise) domaines in our region sell the bulk of a new vintage, if not all, within a month of being bottled (as we do). And this is a good thing for the region as a whole.
Astonishing that great longstanding domaines such as Grange des Peres, or Mas Jullien are not included in the article’s list of favorite producers.
Jancis’ article can be seen here or by clicking the image above.
Wine Advocate’s David Schildknecht updated list
David Schildknecht update list of Outstanding Languedoc Producers
Some time ago we rushed off some bottles of our first vintage to the Wine Advocate, and were included (as * * * * Excellent) hot-off-the-press in Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide No. 7 – The Languedoc’s Best Producers.
Somewhat shameful to admit, but this led to an atmosphere in our chai of (as Claudius had it) “defeated joy…in equal scale weighing delight and dole”.
So, we were very happy to see David Schildknecht share his updated list of the Languedoc’s Best Producers in response to Jancis Robinson’s article (and on her forum) with the domaine listed as * * * * * (Outstanding).
The Wine Advocate is a publication that, over a great length of time, has made a serious effort to look at the region’s wines on a reasonably regular basis. Visiting domaines, and assessing wines over various vintages.
His post begins with the words:
Amen to Jancis’ contention that the best wines of the Languedoc and Roussillon deserve far more attention from consumers than they are receiving. It’s hard to grasp not only the sheer number of estates and négociats in these regions, but also how many of them render excellent wine. below is my own list of top estates, starting with the Languedoc, then Roussillon. (They’re ranked alphabetically within quality groupings by stars, sincethat is the format – followed for Robert Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide…
David Schildknecht’s Wine Advocate Reviews 2005-2007: Here