By Chris Buckland-Smith,
Manager of Majestic Wine Windsor
Back in May myself and a number of other Majestic staff were sat in a plane on our way to the historic town of Carcassonne in the Languedoc. We were looking forward to a couple of days of sun, vineyards, wine and good food. To say we were surprised when the pilot announced that the plane was being diverted to Bezier due to SNOW (yes snow on the Mediterranean coast in May) was an understatement. We emerged from the plane into a wet, cold and deserted airport, not the most auspicious start, but the warmth of the welcome from Alain Grignon and his team quickly lifted our spirits. After a quick bite to eat our trip began and we were on the road driving through the jewels of LGI’s crown top quality vineyards…
Alain Grignon set up LGI back in 1999 and has been producing fantastic wines ever since under a variety of different labels and price points. The secret behind their success is the passion Alain and his team have for the indigenous varieties of the Languedoc such as Carignan and Grenache, while other producers rip up these venerable old vines in favour of more well known varieties. LGI’s wines continue to show just how good they can really be. This combined with a real focus on quality both in the vineyard, with their growers and the use of modern techniques in the winery, help to create a really diverse portfolio of wines that offer quality at every level.
The next day, after enough cassoulet to feed a small army, we reluctantly said goodbye and headed back to sunny old England (the only time this phrase has not been ironic). However the warmth of the hospitality and more importantly the quality of the wines left a lasting impression and reinforced my view that for everyday value, the wines from the South of France and especially LGI are hard to beat.
La Croisade Réserve Grenache 2009, PGI Pays d’Oc
£5.99 or £4.99* when you buy 2 bottles
From old vines on the Mediterranean coast, this wonderfully smooth Grenache is packed full of ripe strawberry fruit and a hint of sweet spice. A fantastic pairing with pork chops.
La Croisade Réserve Sauvignon Blanc 2009, PGI Pays d’Oc
£5.99 or £5.49* when you buy 2 bottles
Benefiting from cooling sea breezes coming in from the med, this wine shows a softer side to Sauvignon Blanc. With lashings of gooseberry and tropical fruits this is a great party wine.
Alain Grignon Carignan Vieilles Vignes 2009, PGI Pays de l’Hérault
£6.99 or £5.49* when you buy 2 bottles
This is one of the best indigenous varieties from the Languedoc and offers a real taste of the south. From low yielding old vines this rich wine has aromas of dark cherries and a hint of French oak. Great with rich dishes such as confit de canard.
Vallée Blanche Sauvignon Blanc 2009, PGI Côtes de Gascogne
£6.99 or £5.99* when you buy 2 bottles
From the cooler Atlantic coast of Gascony, this wine shows Sauvignon at its most zingy and fresh. Packed full of lime and gooseberry fruit this is the perfect accompaniment to lighter dishes and salads.
*Prices are valid from 1 February 2011 to 2 May 2011