21 June 2010

Sud de France Synchronized Tasting

Today I join 90 other wine writers and bloggers around the world in a synchronized online tasting of the wines of Sud de France. Sud de France is a brand that includes multiple winemakers around Languedoc-Roussillon, focusing on inexpensive, food friendly, drink-now wines. The tasting kit sent to each participant contained five wines, and I've got to give them big thanks for the selection. Usually when you get a set of wine samples, it's five Zinfandels or three sparkling wines or some other grouping. This batch included an ideal distribution: one each of sparkling, white, rosé, red, and sweet.

NV Sieur d'Arques Grand Cuvée 1531
Crémant de Limoux
$12, 12% abv
Blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Mauzac, and Pinot Noir.

This sparkling wine is crisp and tart with big bubbles and a slightly yeasty nose. Touch of green apple on the nose. There is always a need for inexpensive bubbly that drinks well and also looks classy. This is dry but fruity enough to appeal to a wide range of palates. At a price like this it would be a great choice for parties or wedding receptions.

I also think it would be superb with fresh oysters, though I enjoyed it with a dish of ricotta-stuffed pasta shells and wilted spinach.

2008 Gérard Bertrand Cigalus
Vin de Pays d'Oc
$30, 13.5% abv
75% Chardonnay, 20% Viognier, 5% Sauvignon Blanc

Rich and floral, very light body, short aftertaste. Hints of apricot and jasmine, excellent balance. This is a fairly high end wine for Vin de Pays d'Oc, and shouldn't be treated as a simple table wine, and it drinks equally well at room temperature where more fruit fullness comes through in the flavor.

I enjoyed this with pizza topped with ham and mushrooms, a nice little lunch on a warm day. Anything salty and savory will help pull out the characteristics of the wine, so also think about olives and roasted garlic-based dishes.

NV Fruité Catalan Rosé
Côtes du Roussillon
$12, 13% abv
Blend of Syrah and Grenache.

This is a big, fruity rosé with dominant raspberry characteristics and just a touch of sweetness. There's a hint of tannins present and it is overall a fairly strong representative of the style. The Fruité wines also come packaged in boxes and tiny bottles, typically at bargain prices. Serve with a wide range of salads and sandwiches.

One funny little footnote: this wine is enclosed with a bright neon pink synthetic cork. I'm not a big fan of plastic corks, but out of the thousands of corks I've pulled this is the first one that looks like it belongs in Barbie's Malibu Dream House.

2006 Domaine Dromadaire 30670
Vin de Pays d'Oc
$12, 13% abv
Blend of Syrah and Grenache.

This is big, tannic, spicy, jammy. Lots of dark plum and black cherry, and you'll want to serve this with full-flavored burgers, roasted meats, or other strong food. It's more of a Rhone-style blend that you would expect from California or Australia than France, so think big and fruit-forward when making pairing decisions.

Background trivia here: 30670 is the postal code for Aigues-Vives. The word dromadaire refers to the dromedary, or one-humped camel. A blue and white checkered flag means the letter N or "no" in sailing.

2006 Mas de Madame
Muscat de Frontignan
$17, 15.5% abv
Made from the delightfully named Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, with the last part of the name meaning "small berries".

Sweet and musky, overripe peach and pear nectar aroma and flavor. Good acidity. This is very sweet for my tastes, but pair this with the right cheeses after dinner and you've got a solid hit.

Note that the label is scuffed up a bit here, a sad side effect of the shipping process. Also, all of the bottles here bear "FOR TASTING ONLY" white labels that are attached to the glass. I've attempted to position the bottles to minimize these, but you can still see them a bit.

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Great lineup here, and many thanks to Sud de France for putting together this interesting tasting experience.

Note: These wines were received as samples from Sud de France. The tasting kit also included a complimentary wine glass and corkscrew.


Mark said...

Thanks for sharing Ben. I'm a huge fan of wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon and would be very interested in trying the Crémant de Limoux. Do you know if these wines are currently available and who the distributor in the US is?

Benito said...


The brand "Sud de France" has been around for four years, and they are available in the US. For specific regional distributors, you can contact the company.


Anonymous said...


My etymology credentials would never stack up very well against yours, but I think dromedary camels are named so because they are the type of camels once used for racing (dromedary from drome, meaning race as in hippodrome or velodrome). This would also explain the checkered flag background on the label in question...

Benito said...


I have no idea how all the elements in that wine's name and label fit together--you're right about the racing camels and drome, but every French source I found for dromadaire was about the camel. And I thought maybe a blue checkered flag meant something different in European rally or F1 races, but the only connection I found was in sailing.

I have a feeling the blue and white is just a design they liked, although it makes it a bit difficult to read the red text on top.


Ed Thralls said...


Nice work as always... cool to compare notes, though I will take the day to compile my twitter snippets and create a full on post. Nice applicable Barbie reference!

The Muscat was too sweet for me and little syrupy, and I really enjoyed the Cremant and Cigalus the most

Benito said...


You're right, that Cremant is nice enough to keep a full case around the house. I'm going to check out the other reviews that are popping up--seems like Twitter is where most of the action is.


Kevin Glowacki said...

Great job on the notes Benito.

I agree on the Cremant and think it is a real winner, though I don't know the average retail price. It was better than others I've had from the region.

I didn't care of the rosé one bit, but I seem to be one of the few.

It was a solid tasting and I'm enjoying reading what others said and comparing notes.

Benito said...


I prefer much lighter, more restrained rosés. But as someone else pointed out on Twitter, it's not a bad introductory pink for a new wine drinker.

This has been fun--I'd like to see a list of all the participants, because I know I haven't seen 90 different writers yet.