The Languedoc may not have the prestige and grandeur of Bordeaux and Champagne, but it makes up for it with aspiration, value and variety, making it one of 2012's regions to watch. Amy Wislocki profiles four Brits who have moved to the Languedoc to make wine.
‘The Britpack: winemaking Brits in France’ – Robert Eden
Producer: Robert Eden, Château Maris, La Livinière, Minervois
A veteran compared to the other three, Robert Eden moved to France 20 years ago after a long career in wine – he started out in Australia, aged 17, working with legendary winemaker Len Evans, arriving in the Languedoc via Italy and Burgundy.
He bought Château Maris as a going concern in 1997. “La Livinière gave me what I wanted in my wines: elegance, suppleness, pure, bright fruit and seductiveness. The property had been three generations in one family, and had 84ha of vines – today, plantings total 45ha, and the estate is certified biodynamic. “Maris didn’t appeal to many buyers because it was a village domaine (that is, the vineyards were scattered around the villages). But the quality and reputation were there.
“I believe we can make some of the best Syrah in the world here – it’s ideally suited climatically. It’s less burned and bacony than the northern Rhône style, and doesn’t have the baked, parched aspect that some Syrah has – the rainfall here gives a lushness.”
Eden has seen huge change in the Languedoc since he bought Maris in 1997. “It’s an exciting time now here – base quality has increased substantially with people coming in to make varietals to compete with the New World. Also many growers are breaking away from the cooperatives.” It’s a great time to establish yourself here, he says, but advises caution: “Keep it small, and buy as little land as you can in the beginning. Also, consider buying in grapes and making your own wine – there is huge potential here in purchasing grapes.”
Château Maris, Continuité de Nature 2008: 90% Carignan, 10% Grenache
Made from 80-year-old Carignan vines, this has lovely dry tannins and voluptuous, dark, small black curranty fruit, lifted by fresh acidity. An elegant mouthful. 16.5pts/20
Price: £18.99, Vintage Roots