It was with great pleasure that we accepted an invitation to learn more about the Sud de France Top 100 Wines for 2022. For South of France, read Occitanie, ie. wines from the beautiful regions of Languedoc, Roussillon, parts of the Rhône Valley and South-West France.
The winning hundred had been selected from amongst 403 wines submitted by 97 producers and blind-tasted by a judging panel of wine writers and trade buyers chaired by broadcaster and Master of Wine Tim Atkin.
A great location…
Even if the wines hadn’t sounded so interesting, we would probably have gone along anyway, to check out the venue.
One Great George Street is handily located just off Parliament Square, and is an impressive Edwardian Baroque building built in 1910-13 by James Miller, as the headquarters of the Institute of Civil Engineers. It’s now mainly used as a conference and events centre.
… and excellent organisation
The wine tasting took place in the Brunel Room, originally the South Reading Room; with its walnut-panelled walls and thick, traditionally-patterned carpet this made a pleasantly quiet and dignified setting.
The hundred wines had been set out around the room in the same order as in our printed catalogue. This was well-detailed, with plenty of room for notes. The order was also the right one for tasting, letting us progress from whites to rosés to light and then heavier reds, before winding up with a dessert wine.
No way could we taste all 100 wines, alas! Each category had a trophy winner; three more reds and two more whites had also been rated outstanding by the judges.
Of the winners that we tried, we especially enjoyed an oaky red Saint-Chinian Roquebrun (Cave de Roquebrun Golden Vines) and a light but toffeeish Banyuls dessert wine (Domaine de la Rectorie, Pierre Rapidel).
Historically this area of France was more renowned for the quantity than the quality of the wine it produced. Most of that was red, thanks to all the sunshine that it enjoys. These days things have changed; while reds still account for 51% of production, whites (29%) and rosés (20%) find increasing favour. And quality has improved exponentially!
Amongst other wines that we tasted, some that stood out were: Domaine Gayda’s clean, fresh-tasting Altre Cami Grenache Gris; a summery Picpoul de Pinet, Les Costières de Pomerols Réserve de Mirou; Domaine Guillaman Rosée de Pressée with its pleasant bouquet; classy reds Maison Fortant Sélections Parcellaires Languedoc and Mas du Novi Ô de Novi with its strong bouquet, dusky Maison Bruno Andreu B Andreu and cobwebby Cave de Roquebrun Baron d’Aupenac.
Occitanie’s ancient symbol
Finally, it made us happy to spot that the tasting glasses had been engraved with the Occitan Cross.
This simple, elegant device has associations with the area going back to the days of medieval heraldry; instantly recognisable, it works as well as a bit of modern branding as it ever did on a knight’s shield.
Sud de France Top 100 Wines: suddefrancetop100.co.uk