France: Languedoc Roussillon

Around Carcassonne

The wines of Cabardès, Malepère and Limoux
By Richard James and Paul Strang

This Guide was last updated on 26 April 2010
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Main grape varieties

Red

Cabernet Sauvignon
It may be difficult to ripen in certain areas and in cooler vintages, but gives colour, structure and intense blackcurrant flavours to the wines.

Merlot
Produces supple wines that develop earlier and may soften Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in the red wine blends. Important for red Limoux.

Cabernet Franc
Little used here though increasing, and can be more successful in this relatively cooler Languedoc climate than Cabernet Sauvignon.

Carignan
Thrives well on the hills on schist soils. It produces tannic wines with good colour.

Cinsault
Results in supple, light wines and is particularly suited for rosé production.

Grenache
Thrives in dry conditions, but it susceptible to disease. The wines are rich in aromas and texture.

Syrah
Ripens early and when yields are controlled, it can give wines with strong colour, spicy black cherry flavours and good structure.

Pinot Noir
A little is grown in Limoux (maximum 10% is allowed in sparkling wine blends) and some Vin de Pays are made from it too proving; promising in cooler low-yielding sites in Limoux and Cabardès


White

Chardonnay
Used for Vin de Pays and in white blends, particularly in Lmoux where the best still wines are from 100% Chardonnay. The variety gives consistent high ripeness levels, yet retains fresh acidity too; it is a good blending partner, well suited to oak fermentation and ageing.

Chenin Blanc
Used as a blending ingredient in white Limoux and the sparkling wines, having good acidity and floral honeyed aromas, also producing young fresh yet quite full-bodied Vin de Pays.

Mauzac
Aromatic grape variety used for Limoux blends or as a single varietal in Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale.

Grenache Blanc
Used in blends to add supple fruit and body.


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