What is Vin de Pays d’Oc?
Wines of Pays d’Oc are simply more adventurous bucking French wine making convention. Elevated worlds above table wine (Vin de Table) but perhaps not entirely conforming to AOC (origin of control) standards…there is plenty of room for distinctive creativity in the Vin de Pays category. Grown in the South of France’s Languedoc Roussillon, over 56 Pays d’Oc grape varieties thrive in world renown terrain stretching from the Spanish border to the Rhone delta. Growing conditions are shaped by a mosaic of clay, chalky limestone, & gneiss forming the steep slopes and dry windswept soils bathed in the Mediterranean Sea’s temperate moisture and plentiful sun. You get ideal micro climates each yielding subtle and at times surprising flavor profiles. Further compounding the array of sensory possiblities, these Pays d’Oc wines also come bivarietal and assemblage (blended). Top quality is assured by an IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) certification adopted by 2700 vineyards.
Tasting Pays d’Oc
I recently tasted a diverse lineup of Pays d’Oc wines at The Vinatta Project, located in the heart of NYC’s Meatpacking District. Lined up on the long zinc bar and communal wood tables, over 30 varietals were open for sampling. As with many distinct wines, the terroir effect is immediately noticeable to the senses but these Pays d’Oc wines displayed striking nuances on the palate. Here are some of my most memorable encounters:
- My favorite of the whites was a Cuvee La Violette Viognier 2010 with a citrusy spice mouthfeel but not too intense.
- Badet Clement, Les Jamelles, Grenache Rose 2010 – Tropical fruit on the nose…its bouquet belies the impending freshness which translates to a fruity zing across the palate that’s short and astringent.
- C’est la vie Pinot Noir – Syrah 2011 – Powerful nose with deep bramble fruit embeds into the taste buds making for lingering memories.
- Laurent Miquel, Pere et fils Syrah-Grenache 2010 – Always a sucker for Grenache bivarietals, the intense berry and fresh herb really popped for me especially when paired with hearty breads, artisan cheeses, and charcuterie hors d’oeuvres that were served as well.
Photos courtesy of snooth.com & Steve Mirsky