With decent Bordeaux hard to find for under a tenner and even entry level red Burgundy costing generally north of £15 ( and can be hit and miss even at that price) where can you find good quality French red wine that doesn’t break the bank?
One answer is the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France.It is a large and rapidly improving area stretching along the Mediterranean coast and produces over a third of all the wine produced in France.
The vines here are old and gnarled producing wines of authenticity and character.They tend to be medium to full bodied,very concentrated with notes of lavender and rosemary.
85% of production in the area is red using a quintet of grape varieties namely Syrah,Grenache,Carignan,Cinsault and Mourvedre, all of which are indigenous to the region.Winemakers will use a combination of some and occasionally all of these varieties in the final blend. Some of the main appellations (the protected region of production) to look out for are Minervois,Corbieres,Fitou and St.Chinian.
If you have never tried (or are looking to rediscover) the wines of this region here are some examples worth trying. All are great with rustic hearty stews or roast meats and above all represent great value for money.
Asda currently have a couple of good value wines from the region under their “Wine Atlas” range. They are currently Decanter magazine’s Supermarket of the Year thanks in part to this initiative in encouraging customers to try wines and grape varieties they might otherwise leave on the shelf. Availability of these wines does seem to vary between stores. I purchased these wines from Aintree but they seemed unavailable in Bootle.
Wine Atlas Corbieres 2014 13.5%
A rustic and powerful red made from 35% Carignan 40% Grenache and 25%Syrah which perfectly captures the herby flavours of the region. Great with grilled meats or stews. £5.97 Asda.
Wine Atlas Saint-Chinian 2013 12.5%
Another blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah but in slightly different proportions to the Corbieres this brambly red is full of silky liquorice flavours and is great with a hearty casserole. ” A great weekend wine”-Decanter £5.97 Asda.
Sainsbury’s also have a couple of nice examples in the form of the Montpierre Reserve Fitou 2013-12.5% £6 and the Taste the Difference Pic St.Loup 2012 13.5% £8. Pic St. Loup is one of the top wine producing regions in the Languedoc lying to the north of Montpellier. Pic St. Loup wines must contain 90% Syrah,Grenache and Mourvedre and typically cost between £10-£15 making this a great value buy. Recommended by Decanter magazine as “25 wines to try under £20”.