"Oak is like make-up. You don't want to see it", or so says Charles Metcalfe when discussing his white wines of choice at the Sud de France Festival in London.
Actually, my Australian palate doesn't mind a heavy hand with the oak (although I do go easy on the lipstick). Nevertheless, before the curtain closes on 30th September, here's my quick shout out to wine enthusiasts, francophiles and lovers of all things Mediterranean for the Sud de France Festival.
Although the Mediterranean sunshine may have largely vanished for the year, this festival promotes the Languedoc - Roussillon region's producers and flavours for all seasons - from the giant cassoulet and wine lunch at Borough Market, to the Sud de France Market with free tastings held in the Duke of York Square, to guided WSET courses. Upcoming events include the WSET course with Frederic Grappe (Dynamic Wines) for an introduction to the organic and biodynamic wines of Languedoc-Roussion (Tuesday 28 September) and the Sud De France Walkabout Tasting at Roberson Wines (Thursday 30 September).
Last week, I was invited to attend a Masterclass at Vinopolis hosted by British wine critic, Charles Metcalfe. After an entertaining and evocative introduction to the region - its food, wine, soil, terrain and culture - Charles gave a room full of wine enthusiasts a tutored tasting to 7 different wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region. We then enjoyed some great regional cheeses and rillettes before the cellar opened up to a tasting of 16 wines from the region.
A big thumbs up for the Domaine De L'Aigle, 2008 (Vin de pays d'Oc, Pinot Noir) - a gorgeous, elegant, soft Pinot which retails for only around £8-£10 at Waitrose - a bargain. I also loved the Paul Mas Mourvedre, 2009 (Vin de pas d'Oc, £8.99 Majestic). If you like rose, my favourite was the Chateau Combebelle (Cerisier, 2009, AOC Saint Chinian) - dry with cherry liqueur (£7-£9). My pick of the whites was the Guillaume Aurele, 2009 (Vin de pays d'Oc, Chardonnay, £6.50 from Heritage Wine) - unoaked, ripe and fresh. For a sweet finish (and if you like Pedro Ximenez), try the Ey Single Vineyard, Vigne D'en Traginer, 2001 AOC Banyuls - a caramel-like Grenache, great for matching with cheese, pudding or chocolate.
The Sud De France Festival runs from 17 - 30 September 2010. See the Sud de France Festival website for details. If you miss it this year, this is definitely one to put in the diary for 2011.