The Austin Chronicle

Wine of the Week

A Great Wine for French Beginners

By Wes Marshall, January 15, 2010, Food

The Languedoc wine region of France is a huge area, encompassing the Mediterranean part of France from the border of Spain all the way over to Provence. It is currently the single largest wine producing area in the world, and up until the last decade, it routinely outproduced all of California – though it's never had a great reputation because most of its wine was produced for the cheapest of grocery store markets.

However, there's no reason why the Languedoc can't make wines that compete with the best in the world. The weather is fairly benign, there are thousands of acres of old vines, and many of the world's best wine companies see great possibilities in making high-quality Languedoc wines. For readers wanting to understand why so many people are nuts about French wines, this is a great place to start, since the wines are still fairly priced.

One of the U.S.'s most Francophile wineries, Clos du Val, is investing its resources in Languedoc's Domaine de Nizas. The company is producing six different wines, all less than $20 and all well worth the price. The winner of the bunch for cost/quality ratio is Domaine de Nizas Rouge ($17). This is an AOC wine, which means it's one of the more tightly regulated wines of France. In this case, it's made from 60% Syrah, 35% Mourvèdre, and 5% Grenache Noir, all of which are grown on the winery's estates. The resulting wine is clearly French in flavor, yet it also has the fruity richness that California wine drinkers expect. Enjoy it with a steak, a burger, or any other grilled meat.

Domaine de Nizas Rouge is available at Costco's north store, which is selling the 100 or so bottles in stock for just $13, a great bargain. It's­ also available by special order at better wine shops.

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