A delicious wine from Languedoc? The region that has switched quantity for quality, and it shows in every sublime sip of this gorgeous wine…
Long discounted as a lesser wine region, certainly compared to the behemoths of Bordeaux and Burgundy, the Languedoc region skirting France’s sunny south coast is experiencing something of a renaissance these days. Indeed, the Languedoc is touted by wine-goddess Jancis Robinson as France’s best-value wine region. It is true that in the past Languedoc was more interested in quantity than quality, once accounting for almost a third of the entire country’s annual production, but times have changed, and so has the quality of wines that can be found there. And that includes Château Haut Blanville’s 1955, a superb, award-winning and consistently highly rated red wine that you will find at Khéma’s outlets in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
But first a little about the region. The Languedoc is on the western side of the large Mediterranean coastal area reaching from the Spanish border towards Provence on the east. Known as the Occitanie region, it owes its name to the language Occitan, in which oc is the word for ‘yes’, hence Langue d’oc, ‘the language of yes’.
Vines have been cultivated here since as early as 125 BCE, when the port city of Narbonne played an important role within the Roman Empire. But, when the Empire fell, wine production went down with it, until the Middles Ages when local monasteries cast their eye across the terrain and spied an opportunity. Wine has always played an important role in Christian religious symbolism, especially the Eucharist, in which the ‘body and blood’ (bread and wine) of Christ are consumed as a symbol of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of those monasteries, the Abbaye de Valmagne, started cultivating wines almost 900 years ago and is still doing so today.
Centuries later, Languedoc became an enthusiastic industrialiser, to its own cost in the end. Over-production saw weak, pale wines being eked out of the hillsides, which had to be blended with more robust imports in order to produce something commercially viable. And their emphasis on producing vast quantities of cheap table wine fell victim to the increasing sophistication of consumers’ palates, and the consequent collapse in demand.
Over the last twenty years though, things have changed. Because land is relatively cheap here, Languedoc has attracted investors from all over France and the world. These and leading local winemakers have invested in state-of-the-art technology working in concert with time-honoured traditions to yield a diverse range of terroir-driven wines. The Languedoc AOC is now considered one of the fastest-growing in France, and Languedoc wines are today being celebrated the world over by consumers looking for exceptional quality and value.
One of these, Grés de Montpellier, was established in 2005 for red wines mainly made from Syrah and Mourvèdre with Grenache Noir in a sweep of hinterland to the west of Montpellier, an area with long, hot summers and relatively mild winters, and generally cooled by breezes from the nearby Mediterranean Sea.
And this is where we find Château Haut Blanville’s single six-hectare parcel dedicated to producing Syrah grapes for their 1955 label. The West Baray is more than 250 times bigger than the single parcel from which 1955’s grapes are cultivated.
Syrah is also known as Shiraz, usually when referring to New World wines. However, although the two grapes are functionally the same, the Old World Syrah tends to be lighter and leaner, with finer tannins. In other words, it’s not as ‘beefy’ as you might have experienced with New World Shirazes.
However, Château Haut Blanville’s Syrah is still pretty full-bodied, with robust tannins and acidity. The result is a deep, berry fruit-driven wine with a lively aroma blending hints of fruit, dried plums, vanilla and liquorice. This wine is soft and balanced in the mouth, and finishes with freshness and a silky finesse.
This is a wine for a flavour-packed meal that can match its mettle. Think Beef Wellington or a Steak Frites Café de Paris, Lamb Shank or a simple Toulouse Sausage with Potato Purée.
And don’t forget, you don’t have to dine in to enjoy our wines. We sell all of them for consumption off the premises too!