A taste of the Pays d’Oc: 8 organic wines to try

A virtual masterclass on Monday at 3pm UK time will shine a light on the green credentials of southern France’s Pays d’Oc IGP using eight delicious, inexpensive, organic wines – which we’ve previewed below.

The Pays d’Oc produces around 67 million certified organic bottles of wine each year, representing 10% of the region’s output

The masterclass, which you can register for by clicking here, is the second of three online tutored tastings designed to uncover the key traits of this part of France, where varied terroirs and varietal labelling are used to bring brilliant and crowd-pleasing wines to the world.

In the second of the educational events, which will take place on Monday, we focus on whites, reds and rosés made from certified organically-grown grapes, and sold at affordable prices, to maximise their commercial potential.

With its dry climate, and wind-swept vineyards, the Pays d’Oc IGP is one of France’s largest sources of organic wine, with 10% of its output certified organic, representing around 67m bottles each year.

The following wines will be shown next week, and were chosen by myself having blind-tasted almost 300 samples from the region.

Click here to register for the masterclass and click here to read more about the region, and find out about further events on the Pays d’Oc. Not only do we have the event on Monday 25 January (3pm), but we also have a further and final web-based session on Monday 1 February (3pm) to showcase the region’s indigenous grapes and novel blends.

The wines featuring in the masterclass on Monday 25 January are previewed below, while the bottles that were shown in the previous masterclass, which focused on varietal and commercial wines, can be viewed by clicking here.

Domaine Saint-Cels, Tinte Clochette Blanc, 2019

  • Producer: Domaine Saint-Cels
  • Region: Pays d’Oc
  • Country: France
  • Grape variety: 50% Colombard and 50% Vermentino
  • ABV: 13%
  • Vintage: 2019
  • Closure: Cork
  • Soil type: Limestone
  • Winemaking: Vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats using selected yeasts, and then ageing in enamel vats.
  • Approx. price: €6.50 cellar price and £9.90 UK retail price

This exciting find from the heart of the Saint-Chinian area of the Languedoc uses a blend of Colombard and Vermentino to yield an organic white with juicy characters of ripe pear and peach, along with fresh orange on the finish. Delicious with some oily richness to its core and a taut edge, making this a particularly pleasing and versatile style of white wine.

Domaine la Louvière, ‘Le Libertin‘ Sauvignon Blanc, 2019

  • Producer: Domaine la Louvière
  • Region: Pays d’Oc
  • Country: France
  • Grape variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
  • ABV: 12%
  • Vintage: 2019
  • Closure: Cork
  • Soil type: NA
  • Winemaking: Vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats, and then aged on its fine lees. Bottle early to preserve the aromas.
  • Approx. price: £10-£15 UK retail price

Looking for an organic Sauvignon Blanc that doesn’t break the bank? Well, here’s a brilliant option, with masses of juicy pink grapefruit, lime zest and a touch of nettle to bring some cool refreshment to your day or night.

Domaine Gayda, Flying Solo Blanc, 2020

 

  • Producer: Domaine Gayda
  • Region: Pays d’Oc
  • Country: France
  • Grape variety: 85% Grenache Blanc, 15% Viognier
  • ABV: 13%
  • Vintage: 2020
  • Closure: Screwcap
  • Soil type: Limestone terraces with clay
  • Winemaking: Pneumatic pressing, cold fermentation, ageing on lees.
  • Approx. price: £9 UK retail price

Employing two grapes – Grenache Blanc and Viognier – that are particularly well-adapted to the dry, rugged soils of the Languedoc is this affordable, organic Pays d’Oc from the first-rate Domaine Gayda.

It’s squeaky clean in style, with pristine peach, pear and lemon-lime flavours, making for a fruity, fine, bright style of white.

Domaines Costes Rouges, L’Espérance Blanc, 2017

  • Producer: Domaines Costes Rouges
  • Region: Pays d’Oc
  • Country: France
  • Grape variety: 100% Viognier
  • ABV: 13%
  • Vintage: 2017
  • Closure: Cork
  • Soil type: Limestone
  • Winemaking: Mechanical harvesting at night to preserve the aromatic potential and prevent oxidation of the grapes. Destemming, pressing, settling, fermentation at low temperatures (16-18 °C). Halfway through fermentation the wine is put in 500-litre barrels, with lees stirring for 2 to 3 months, and then ageing on fine lees in barrel for 12 months.
  • Approx. price: €13.00 cellar price and £10-£15 UK retail price

From a ‘blind’ tasting of more than 100 whites from the Pays d’Oc IGP this was my highest scoring wine, wowing for its richness and complexity, while, as I later found out, offering a taste of something organic from a small producer in a place called Neffiès, located near the foothills of the Cévennes, just 30 minutes from the Mediterranean sea.

It’s a deeply-coloured drop, with golden glints giving a clue to its generous style. The aromatics are intense, with ripe peach and then wood shaving and cashew nut from the Hungarian oak used to age the wine, which is made entirely from Viognier. Drinking it is a hedonistic experience, as it bathes the taste buds with apricot and cream, along with lingering toasty notes, and a slightly warming sensation. For those that like richly-textured, barrel-influenced white, then this is a wonderful option, delivering huge amounts of wine for the price. But if you like your drinks to be delicate, then brace yourself for a shock.

Famille Fabre, Grande Courtade, l’Instant Rosé, 2019

  • Producer: Famille Fabre
  • Region: Pays d’Oc
  • Country: France
  • Grape variety: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot
  • ABV: 12.5%
  • Vintage: 2019
  • Closure: Cork
  • Soil type: Limestone marls from the Ensérune oppidum (a prehistoric fortified hilltop settlement between Béziers and Narbonne) and recent alluvial silts.
  • Winemaking: Colour obtained by a bleeding the juice from the skins, before the juice is vinified in vats at low temperatures.
  • Approx. price: €7.70 cellar price and £9 UK retail price

The fact that this is good as anything from Provence, and it’s organic, plus it sells for sub £10, makes this a real find for today’s pink wine quaffer. Bone dry with a touch of white peach and a zesty grapefruit kick on the finish, it has plenty of fruit and freshness.

Sainte Marie des Crozes, En Rébellion, Pinot Noir, 2019

  • Producer: Sainte Marie des Crozes
  • Region: Pays d’Oc
  • Country: France
  • Grape variety: 100% Pinot Noir
  • ABV: 13.8%
  • Vintage: 2019
  • Closure: Cork
  • Soil type: Clay-limestone
  • Winemaking: Vinification and ageing in stainless steel vats. Indigenous yeasts.
  • Approx. price: €8.50 cellar price and £11-£13 UK retail price

If you like your reds to be light and organic, then try this inexpensive Pinot Noir, which delivers flavours of ripe, crushed strawberry, and a touch of spice, in a fine-grained package that’s also surprisingly affordable for this hard-to-grow grape.

Domaine le Nouveau Monde, Carabènes, 2019

  • Producer: Domaine du Nouveau Monde
  • Region: Pays d’Oc
  • Country: France
  • Grape variety: 100% Syrah
  • ABV: 13.5%
  • Vintage: 2019
  • Closure: Cork
  • Soil type: Sand
  • Winemaking: Fermented in cement vats with delestage (rack-and-return) and pumping over, 15 days maceration, 1 year ageing in vat.
  • Approx. price: €7.50 cellar price and sub £10 UK retail price

A deeply coloured red with masses of black cherry, prunes and a touch of olive makes for a layered, ripe style of Syrah with a bright finish that’s also both organic and affordable.

Domaine Gayda, Flying Solo Rouge, 2019

  • Producer: Domaine Gayda
  • Region: Pays d’Oc
  • Country: France
  • Grape variety: 60% Grenache Noir, 40% Syrah
  • ABV: 13.5%
  • Vintage: 2019
  • Closure: Screwcap
  • Soil type: Limestone plateaus in Minervois.
  • Winemaking: Traditional vinification for Grenache and short maceration at low temperature for Syrah.
  • Approx. retail price: £9

A brilliant, keenly-priced example of the complementary combination of Grenanche and Syrah from the Languedoc, complete with flavours of sweet red fruit, white pepper, dried herbs and ripe olives. A soft, easy-drinking, medium-weight glass of organic red from a reliably-good producer of Pays d’Oc.

Read more

A TASTE OF THE PAYS D’OC: 8 VARIETAL WINES TO TRY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters