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May 4, 2018 Comments (0) Views: 597 GFR Photo Essay

Languedoc (And Roussillon) How I Love Thee So

Overlook some of the La Lavinière vineyards after a drive up in an old 2CV. Gorgeous.

Overlooking Minervois La Lavinière after a leisurely drive up in an old 2CV. Absolutely gorgeous.

 

This year I once again had the distinct honour of being invited to the annual Languedoc Terroir et Millésimes, held this year in the towns of both Carcassonne and Perpignan. This was actually my fourth trip to this absolutely stunning week of tasting the length and breadth of Languedoc and Roussillon wines, a tradition that just celebrated 10 years since its inception in 2008.

It’s always a real thrill for me to visit this part of the world, a region that throughout the years has become one of my very favourite places to enjoy the pleasures of the vine, and this year was no exception.

With the help of my good friend (and excellent photographer) Stefan Schwytz, I hope to share some of the magic that “Le Sud” has for me each time I return. Most of the pictures are taken by me, with all of the good ones having been taken by Stefan.

The Vines and Wines

One of the reasons I am so fascinated by Languedoc and Roussillon is the sheer breadth of the palette that one can draw from when it comes to wines. You can find almost everything one would ever desire here, well almost…

From the finesse of some of the contemporary La Clape whites, to the laser-focused oyster-foils that are the fiendishly crisp wines of Picpoul.

From the stunning heart-of-darkness old vine Grenache of the newish Maury Sec appellation (that until recently was labelled as VDP Côtes Catalanes), to the rich, structured, and polished Minervois of the famed La Livinière Cru.

From the vibrancy and freshness of the modern wines of the Terrasses du Larzac, through the Bordeaux-influenced elegance of many a Cabardèsto some of the deliciously funky expressions of Faugères and Corbières made by a whole new generation of young winemakers.

From the gorgeously textured sparklers of Limoux, through some of the absolute best rosé this side of Provençe, to the meditative sweet wines of Banyuls, Collioure, and Rivesaltes (Not just for dessert BTW, as an entire dinner paired with these wines throughout proved, much to my utter astonishment!)

To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, when someone is tired of the wines of Languedoc, they are tired of life.

 

Up in the vineyards of the Terrasses du Larzac, and not a cloud in the sky.

Up in the vineyards of the Terrasses du Larzac, and not a cloud in the sky. Okay… one teeny one hiding to the far right.

Old Vine Grenache in terraced vineyards of Banyuls (Photo by Stefan Schwytz)

Old Vine Grenache in terraced vineyards of Banyuls (Photo by Stefan Schwytz)

The very best wines of La Livinière, the dark horse of Languedoc wine (Photo by Stefan Schwytz)

The very best wines of La Livinière, the dark horse of Languedoc wine (Photo by Stefan Schwytz)

Some top notch wines from Château Nagly, La Clape. Great stuff.

Some top notch wines from Château de la Nagly, La Clape. Great stuff.

 

The Landscape

 

Overlooking the town of Banyuls from the terraced vineyards above.

Overlooking the town of Banyuls from the terraced vineyards above.

Looking at the foothills of the Pyrenees from Roussillon (Photo by Stefan Schwytz)

Looking at the foothills of the Pyrenees from Roussillon (Photo by Stefan Schwytz)… I think that this was the hill that destroyed my back actually!

The Food

Classic Catalan barbeque snails in the hillside vineyards of the Roussillon. One of the most enjoyable culinary experiences I have ever had the pleasure of indulging in.

Classic Catalan barbeque snails in the hillside vineyards of the Roussillon. One of the most enjoyable culinary experiences I have ever had the pleasure of indulging in.

Vinegar and salt treated anchovies in the hillside vineyards of Banyuls. Astonishingly good washed down with lashings of the region's rosé.

Vinegar and salt treated anchovies in the hillside vineyards of Banyuls. Astonishingly good and washed down with lashings of the region’s rosé.

Some Roussillon boudin noir (AKA black pudding/blood sausage) and some local pork sausage. Some of the best I have ever eaten.

Some Roussillon boudin noir (AKA black pudding/blood sausage) and some local pork sausage. Some of the best I have ever eaten; and I guess I’m a bit of an aficionado when it comes to such matters…

A terrific fish special for lunch at Carcassonne's Freaks restaurant. A must if you happen to visit.

A terrific fish special for lunch at Carcassonne’s Freaks restaurant. A must if you happen to visit.

And some ember-cooked Camembert for "dessert".  C'est parfait.

Meanwhile, in Roussillon, some ember-cooked Camembert for “dessert”. C’est parfait.

 

The Castles

My office at Hotel de La Cité, Carcassonne, overlooking the rather special castle of Carcassonne.

My office for a few days at Hotel de La Cité, Carcassonne, overlooking the rather special castle of Carcassonne, replete with a stunning, if controversial, installation by acclaimed Swiss artist Felice Varini .

And here's a better look at that Carcassonne installation from the right vantage point.

And here’s a better look at that Carcassonne installation from the right vantage point.

The People

Making friends with some Roussillon Winemakers (photo by Stefan Schwytz)

Making friends with some Roussillon Winemakers (photo by Stefan Schwytz)

With German winewriter, photographer, and all round good guy Stefan Schwytz.

In Collioure with German winewriter, photographer, and all round good guy Stefan Schwytz.

Convenanza Head Honcho and veritable gadfly-about-town Bernie Fabre outside one of Carcassonne's best restaurant, Freaks.

Convenanza Head Honcho and veritable gadfly-about-town, Bernie Fabre, seen here outside one of Carcassonne’s best restaurants, Freaks.

Journalists from all over the globe break bread (and eat snails) with Roussillon winemakers.

Journalists from all over the globe break bread (and eat snails) with some of the most amiable of Roussillon winemakers, all sharing their bloody fantastic wines. Check out all that gorgeous Aïoli!

Limoux locals driving us through the glorious countryside in some fabulous old vintage cars... and our driver was an absolute gentleman.

Limoux locals driving us through the glorious countryside in some fabulous old vintage cars… and our driver was an absolute gentleman.

Jamie Drummond in the Languedoc

Jamie Drummond in the Languedoc attempting to look cool alongside a vintage car in Limoux.

Every year I tend to bump into many of the same journalists at this event, and they really are a great bunch. Seen here at Hotel de la Cité, Carcassonne.

Every year I tend to bump into many of the same journalists at this event, and they really are a great bunch. Seen here at Hotel de la Cité, Carcassonne awaiting more fish mousse with a couple of friendly Winemakers from Picpoul.

 

Another truly memorable trip. Thank you to all those at Clair de Lune for their magnificent organisational skills, and the winegrowers of Languedoc and Roussillon for their legendary warm hospitality and delicious wines. 

 


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’s already longing to return.

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