While the quality of the wines was consistent, the wines remain stylistically unpredictable. You just never know, unless you have made a study of the producers and importers, whether you are going to get a New World-style fruit bomb, or a spicy bouquet of wild herbs accenting a more delicate set of fruit flavors.
For me, those wines with the scent of wild herbs transport me to the craggy, sparse landscape of the Languedoc. They are wines with a true sense of place, and they are both a delight to drink and can be great values.
Almost all the reds from the Languedoc are blends, primarily from traditional grapes like carignan and cinsault, and from new arrivals like syrah, mourvèdre and grenache. In the last 10 or 20 years, many of the old carignan vines have been pulled out and replaced with the new grapes. In hindsight, this was perhaps a mistake. Many of the wines we liked best had high proportions of carignan in the blend, and it seems clear these days that if carignan is farmed rigorously and yields are kept down, the wines incorporating the grapes can be distinctive and delicious.
While it seems as if bottles from the Languedoc are touted perennially as value wines, I don’t hear from many people who are drinking them, nor do I see them on many wine lists. I’d love to hear of recent experiences any of you have had with wines of the Languedoc.