The South of France — especially the vast Languedoc region with all of its appellations — was once known as being a sea of everyday bulk wine. Today, it is one of the most vibrant regions of this wine-growing country.
Two of the more prominent large wine merchants in the area are Laroche and Bertrand Gerard. Here are seven new wines from them:
2010 Laroche Sauvignon Blanc de la Chevalière ($11.50). Light and creamy with pleasant green-fruit flavors, including gooseberries, with a slight tightness at the end of the tasting. Serve it with a baked, white-fleshed fish.
2010 Laroche Chardonnay de la Chevalière ($11.50). Chardonnay at its lightest and most delicate, on the green-apple side, and well balanced. Sip with mild cheeses and couscous.
2010 Laroche "Vignoble Peyroli Mas la Chevalière" ($16.50). Honey and tropical fruit flavors with notes of caramel blend well together with a crisp, fresh finish in this chardonnay from the Languedoc. It would go well with a tossed salad with fresh chicken, nuts, and a honey mustard dressing.
2010 Gèrard Bertrand "Cigalus" IGP ($60) is a blend of chardonnay (80 percent), viognier (15 percent), and sauvignon blanc (5 percent) is an interesting and complex blend. The viognier marries well with the oak finish, and the sauvignon is not much more than a kiss, which leaves the chardonnay to show a creamy fruitiness with a touch of pleasant aromatic bitters. It has a very pleasant texture with an aged crème fraÎche finish and reminds me of a fuller chablis. It would be a good match for roasted quail in a cream sauce.
2010 Laroche Pinot Noir de la Chevalière ($13). This pinot is on the tangy side with bright cherry flavors, but it tastes a little extracted with some grapiness in the finish. Not a perfect or standard pinot, but it could match with mild sausages and sauerkraut.
2010 Laroche Cabernet Sauvignon de la Chevalière ($11.50). It is tart and piquant with lots of medium-ripe blackberries, lean and leathery, but with lots of juicy fruit. Throw a couple of strip steaks on the grill!
2009 Gérard Bertrand "La Forge" Corbières Boutenac ($70). A delicious single-vineyard wine from the best region of Corbières, it is dark and brooding, rich and dense, with almost raisiny flavors and a finish of nuts and savory spices. This would go well with wild boar, but, if you don’t have one available, a fall-off-the-bone veal shank would do.