From The Wine Cellar: Wines Mainly From The South Of France

Laroche is a Burgundy-based producer who has expanded to the South of France. Gérard Bertrand is a relatively new wine producer, but one who is now making some of the best wines in the Languedoc. Here are the newest releases from each.

2011 Laroche Chardonnay Vin de Pays d'Oc IGP ($10). Clean chardonnay tastes of crisp apples, very minerally with almost the pleasant metallic tastes of drinking from a tin cup. Little bit of citrus in finish. Takeaway: An enjoyable, affordable white for those who hate oak.

2011 Laroche Petit Chablis ($20). The previous chard was from the south of France. This one is from the northern, traditional limits of chardonnay winemaking. Many of the best Chablis wines have both floral and mineral notes, and this one falls into that category. It has a full body with good acidity. Takeaway: I really enjoy the floral, meadow-like notes in the aromas and tastes.

2011 Laroche Cabenernet Sauvignon de la Chevalière ($10). This wine really does not cut it — chalky red fruit with a tight finish and little personality. Takeaway: More like a generic red that a varietal cab.

2011 Laroche Pinot Noir de la Chevalière Vin de Pays d'Oc IGP ($20). Nice, fresh pinot flavors of cherries and cola with a crisp peppery finish. Takeaway: A good pinot for those who like freshness over depth.

2010 Gérard Betrand "Cigalus" IGP ($40). A half-and-half blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, the wine is almost purple in color and in dark fruit flavors — rounded, rich, ripe fruits with hints of chocolate and tobacco in the end. Delicious, big wine but with excellent balance.  Takeaway: Somewhat like a vintage port in flavors but without the alcohol.