It is a scene out of a movie.
Welcome to France, I say, with a big smile on my face.
I am half French, so, I should be quite proud to be in the country of my ancestors.
The sun-drenched Mediterranean region of south-east France will be my home for the next five days. I am in search of the best rose wine that is made in Pays d'Oc.
Geographically, the Pays d’Oc is a unique area that stretches along the Mediterranean Sea, from the Spanish border to the Rhone Delta. The majority of the vines face the Mediterranean Sea. The area of Pays d'Oc is vast, with over 200,000 plus acres. This large area includes Pyreness-Orientales, Ande, Herault Gard and six towns in Lozere. Languendoc-Rousseillion offer a wide range of contrasting landscapes and weather conditions. Besides the sea, the area is made up of foothills, and coastal plains.
Imagine owning a vineyard on a hillside slope facing the Mediterranean on a sunny day with clear blue skies, birds singing and the Atlantic breezes blowing through your hair.
Welcome to Pays d'Oc.
The Pays d’Oc region has adopted its vineyards and grape varieties, fifty-six in all, from different regions in France. The winemakers are known as innovators and creative artists who guarantee quality, traceability and geographical origin. What I am told is that the wines from Pays d’Oc seduce your senses and create an enjoyable moment wherever you are.
Some facts about Pays d’Oc :
There are over 20,000 winemakers and as mentioned before, 56 grape varieties that wines are made from. All wines with the Pays d’Oc label are controlled wines that have been sampled before being allowed to be put on the retail store shelf.
Pays d’Oc IGP( Indication Geographique Protegee) wines, made up of 90% French varietals, are the first produced. The region is the leading French exporter by volume and is the Fifth largest world exporter by volume.The U.S. only represents 3.9% ($33 million) of wines exported. The breakdown is simple, 72% red and rose wines are exported mixed with 28% white wines.
Prior to leaving on my trip to Pays d'Oc, Mr. Gravegeal, President of Pays d’Oc IGP guided me through a flight of wines from the region that literally awoke my senses with the freshness, exceptional high quality and unrealistic reasonable prices.
The possibilities of the wines produced are endless, due to the fact that the winemaker can make a single variety, two grapes combined or a blend of grapes. With fifty-six varieties allowed by law to use, the combinations tend to be both unique and creative.
The region celebrates the harvest with the release of Primeur, a wine that is released on the third Thursday of October, a month prior to other releases. Pats d'Oc has 2,500 winemakers who use the IGP certification symbol to announce to the world that they are from this unique region.
In this unique region, I was searching for the perfectly styled rose. I was advised to visit the vineyards if Michel Chapoutier, a well known and highly regarded winemaker who recently (1999) purchased many plots in the Languendoc-Rousillion area. Mr. Chapoutier chose to combine the Cinsault grape from the Gard district of Pays d'Oc to blend with the Grenache grape. According to Michel Chapoutier, the grapes are hand picked, then carefully vinified at low, even temperatures. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, where it is left to age. After a short maceration of the skins, the delicate pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is carefully blended prior to bottling.
The Les Vignes Bila-Haut Rose 2013 is a sustainable wine that has a watermelon, strawberry, pot of black tea aroma. My palate exploded with crisp, mineral flavors of red plum, thyme and black cherry that were perfectly balanced.
At $12.99 a bottle, I found the best rose wine in Pays d'Oc, thanks to Michel Chapoutier.
Philip S. Kampe