Pays d’Oc is a regional designation for wines made in France’s southeastern corner, on the Mediterranean side, in an area that roughly corresponds to the region known as the Languedoc. However, it does not have the geographical and grape limitations that would be needed for a wine to be called, say, Minervois or Corbières (two other Languedocienne designations). As such, the growers who produce Pays d’Oc wines are freer to express their winemaking fantasies, mixing and matching grape varieties, sources, and soils almost at will. One attraction is that they can produce, as examples, varietal chardonnays or pinot noirs much less expensively than could be done in the classic Burgundy vineyards.
Pays d’Oc covers a large area, and its wines account for about 15 percent of France’s total wine production. Although "Pays d’Oc" usually appears on the back, not front, label, the region's producers and importers are currently making a big marketing push to attract U.S. customers. The wines are attractively priced, but tend to be simple and straightforward.Pays d’Oc covers a large area, and its wines account for about 15 percent of France’s total wine production.
Here is a cross-section of typical Pays d’Oc wines that may be coming to a wine store or wine bar near you.
2012 Gilles Louvet Pays d’Oc "O" sauvignon blanc ($13). The wine is very floral and fragrant — like a field of white clover in the glass — with good acidity, yet a soft mouthfeel. Made from organic grapes, this would make a very good shellfish wine.
2012 La Dournie Pays d’Oc "Le Blanc" ($15). An unusual blend of roussanne and viognier with vermentino, this is a very charming drink with good texture with pear and kiwi fruit flavors. It’s also organic.
2012 Fortant Pays d’Oc "Hills Reserve" viognier ($12). Full-bodied and somewhat sweet, this wine has lots of floral and fruity aromas and flavors, including honey, peaches, tropical fruits, and peach skins.
2011 Laurent Miguel Pays d’Oc "Nord Sud" viognier ($14). A little less sweet and full than the Fortant, this viognier does carry the same fruit and floral characteristics, although it is a little more exotic with some citrus notes. It could go with somewhat spicy, somewhat sweet Asian foods.
2012 Laroche Pays d’Oc pinot noir de la Chevalière ($13). A nice, simple pinot that is fruit-forward with rounded cherry and typical sassafras rooty flavors.
2012 Paul Mas La Forge Pays d’Oc pinot noir ($11). Rooty and fruity — fresh plum and red cherry tastes with a light spiciness and a hint of cola. It is rounded and has a light body.
2012 Laroche Pays d’Oc cabernet sauvignon de la Chevalière ($13). Recommended only for cab lovers who like green stemmy flavors to go along with the bright red cherry fruit and a hint of tannin.
2012 Gilles Louvet Pays d’Oc "Mon Pré Carré" marselan ($16). A cross between cabernet sauvignon and grenache, this marselan has flavors of tangy cranberry and rounded blackberries. Though light in body, it has good tannins, good balance, and finishing savory notes.