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On Wine - September 2006

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by Dennis Ray Wheaton

A few decades ago, the most affordable quaff in France was the red wine of Languedoc—so rough it made Gauloise cigarettes seem silky by comparison. No more. Now the Languedoc region is a center for sophisticated wine producers, and so far prices haven’t caught up with the quality. Typical blends draw on syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, and carignane grapes in varying ratios, similar to the more familiar reds from the neighboring Rhône region, such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The moderate weather of 2004 in the south of France produced Languedoc reds enjoyable for their easygoing Mediterranean fruit, balance, and freshness. Some great values in local wine shops include a soft and tasty Vignobles Boudinaud Grange des Rouquette GSM ($11); Domaine de la Tour Boisée ($8), a spicy number with dark fruit flavors from the Minervois district of Languedoc; and Laurent Miquel ($8), a well-structured wine that uncharacteristically is made from a blend of 60 percent cabernet sauvignon and 40 percent syrah. And when dining out, remember that Languedocs go with a wide variety of food, and the quality-to-price ratio may be the best on the wine list.

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