South of France

A look at Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon



The Minervois borders Saint-Chinian as one passes to the west, and here one finds a similarly varied geology with layers of schist, land, limestone and clay all taking precedence as one travels deeper into the heart of the region and back in time. Minervois is much like a natural amphitheatre, capturing the day’s heat and producing wines that are rich and intense, reflecting to a certain degree the prominence both Syrah and Mourvèdre play in the blends of the region.

There are many producers of Minervois in the U.S. market, though it seems that they tend to rotate through quite quickly.  The intriguing and well-priced wines of the Abbaye de Tholomies used to be fairly common, today perhaps less so, but it’s worth the search. Chateau Maris is another producer whose wines I have enjoyed in the past and they seem to remain available, and the new-to-me Domaine du Loup Blanc has been a recent discovery.


The Corbières is possibly the most complex and prestigious region within the Languedoc-Roussillon. There are 11 terroirs that make up the AOC and within the terroirs there are recognized communes, all of which tend to make the wines more complex – so we’ll ignore all of that for the moment. The wines of Corbières benefit not only from a wide variety of terroirs, but also from the nine grape varieties that are allowed in the red blend. As is to be expected, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre dominate the blends.

The Corbières is full of wonderful producers making great value wines. Watch out for the wines of the Domaine des 2 ânes, Mas des Mas, Château Ollieux Romanis and Domaine Lignères.


The vines of Fitou mark the western reaches of the Languedoc; beyond these borders lay the lands of Roussillon. Here both the lands and the complex blends resemble those found in Corbières, though the wines tend to have more power and perhaps less elegance than your typical Corbières, which is not exactly surprising with most wines based on Carignan and Grenache. Bertrand Berge, Maria Fita and the Château des Erles all produce fine wines that are good values.


The Roussillon (and the Côtes du Roussillon in particular) tends to live in the shadow of the Languedoc. While there may not be many producers in the Côtes that routinely appear on my radar, I would be remiss if I did not mention the Clos des Fées, which produces both affordable and very ambitiously priced wines. These all can be quite compelling wines and continue to represent good value. Domaine Gauby has an equally broad range of wines, though its mid-priced wines tend to have crept up in price over the past several vintages. For great values, take a look at Domaine Calvet-Thunevin and Domaine des Soulanes.

Collioure and Banyuls

So here we end with Collioure and Banyuls, two wines that share a region. The Collioure, referring to the dry reds, and the Banyuls (and I should include Maury and Rivesaltes in any discussion of Roussillon dessert wines, but time is short), one of the world’s great red dessert wines.

In Collioure there are not many choices in the U.S. market for dry reds, but the wines from both Coume del Mas and Domaine de la Casa Blanca offer great values and delicious drinking. But when the discussion turns to these regions, it must also turn to the Domaine du Mas Blanc.

A producer of both dry Collioure wines and phenomenal Banyuls, Domaine du Mas Blanc is the quintessential savvy wine buyer’s kind of property. These wines continue to fly under the radar and into the cellars of shrewd collectors the world over. Make sure to give them a try and see what they do for your palate!

Want to learn more?

Check out these articles:

Wine 101 - Northern Rhône Wines

Wines for the Cellar - Southern France

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  • I believe Chateau Faugeres (St Emilion) is 350km west of Faugeres AOC

    Apr 18, 2011 at 1:49 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    You are of course correct. Over ambitious editing. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Apr 18, 2011 at 2:03 PM

  • Snooth User: Pfificus
    600233 32

    You are so right about the marvels obtained with Mourvedre in the Bandol appellation. I have been drinking Domaine Tempier since 1965 and still enjoying some seventies and eighties... I would like to add that a great Bandol (red), after a few decades, can taste like a good Pinot Noir (Cotes de Beaune) or a good Cabernet blend (Medoc). Very interesting for blind tastings....

    Apr 18, 2011 at 2:52 PM

  • Hello There!!!
    Oh....Lucky You!!! I lived for almost Six Years in France,close to the Minervois!! If You do have the time...You should pay that region a visit,as there Wines are ever so Beautifull..!! So is the Region!! I thank You for all the News!! I do enjoy it every Time very Much and do discover,thanks to You,...lots of New Wines!! Best of regards...a very Big Fan.!!!

    Apr 18, 2011 at 6:22 PM

  • My idea of heaven is driving around Provence and visiting every vineyard that has a tasting room :-) I fell in love with the Mas de Gourgonnier wines on my first trip to the region, and ever since have searched (usually in vain) for them here in the U.S. Their rose is one of the very few that I really like.

    Apr 19, 2011 at 5:35 PM

  • An interesting article and some good wines. But I was surprised that no mention was made of Pic St-Loup, my favourite Languedoc area and the home to some great wines from the likes of Clos Marie and Domaine Cazeneuve, as well as the better known Domaine De L'Hortus. I have always found Pic St-Loup wines to give great value for money, especially if you are a fan of Southern Rhone and Languedoc wines in general.

    May 03, 2011 at 5:41 AM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 6,166

    Good, welcome, survey, Greg, of an area with large volumes of wine across a range of quality levels. Of necessity, broader, rather than deeper, of course. Found myself wanting more info on actual wines within each region. Any plans to drill down on each area in more detail, with tasting notes included?

    Frankly, I also still find this slideshow format a pain-in-you-know-where, especially in overviews like this where I want to read quickly through larger volumes of info. I assume your sales dept. wants to show more clickthroughs and 'conversion' from the site, but it is a disservice to your readership. Put the labels and info into an oldschool article format and I, for one, would read you more....

    May 04, 2011 at 9:55 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 6,166

    Oh yeah, and thanks for letting the cat out of the bag about Domaine du Mas Blanc... ;-(

    May 04, 2011 at 9:58 PM

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