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Home Winners > Winners 2016 > FRANCE: South & South-West: Reds

Winner Details

France: South & South-West, including Savoie - Red

2016 Gold: 6 Silver: 6 Bronze: 5 Commended: 8
2015 Gold: 4 Silver: 8 Bronze: 6 Commended: 6

Our tasters are never quite sure what to expect from the South of France when it comes to reds. Are they good value or exercises in ego? Easy drinking or tough and intense? A wine list essential or a bit of an indulgence?

Unhelpfully, the answer to all of these questions is ‘yes’.

Like the whites, this was a big category, and plenty of submissions left with nothing, suggesting that winemaking by the French-speaking Med can be decidedly varied. Yet it also managed to provide good, interesting wines in a range of styles (you don’t get much further apart than Pinot Noir and Cahors) and at a range of prices.

This is important, because as several of our tasters pointed out, there’s still something of a glass ceiling for the South of France, with few punters willing to go above £40 unless held at gunpoint by a sommelier.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘A very attractive line-up – nicely made, and they ticked the right boxes. Wines from the South are becoming much better known, because they’re good.’ Angela Reddin, team leader

‘£35-£40 on a list is right at the top end for the Languedoc.’ Ian Howard, The White Hart Inn at Lydgate

‘There was a big difference in price points. The Languedoc reds were either very good value or very expensive – they tended to be a bit sexed up… there were only one or two that had good varietal character or good regional character.’ Matthieu Longuère MS, Le Cordon Bleu

‘Any wine needs drinkability. It needs to refresh – to put its arm around you and make you a friend. These were hard work, and I was surprised at that.’ Martin Lam, team leader

‘It was a good selection – lots of fruit. Some of the wines would have benefitted from a bit more ageing but they showed their potential.’ Mahesh Nair, Charlotte Street Hotel

Award winners

Found 25 wines

France: South & South-West, Red

LGI-Wines, St Desir, Pinot Noir, Pays d'Oc, 2015, Languedoc , France

Gold medal winner

A juicy, well-balanced red, with 'gorgeous red fruit and spice in the mouth', according to team leader Angela Reddin. Matthieu Longuère MS of Le Cordon Bleu found the wine 'floral and herby with vegetal notes on the nose', while Hawksmoor Air Street's Rossano Antonelli noted 'red berry, liquorice and cloves' and 'good balance'.

£5.88 Majestic Commercial

Gérard Bertrand, Cigalus Rouge, Aude Hauterive, 2013, Languedoc , France

Gold medal winner

Inspiring in its breadth and depth. Rossano Antonelli of Hawksmoor Air Street said: 'With aromas of earth, moss, mushrooms, herbs – and lavender, the palate shows dark and red berry fruit,' while team leader Angela Reddin said: 'Almost dainty for such a bruiser, with deep, dark scented cassis, plum and mulberry on the nose, and a palate of crushed herbs and spices. Decadent!'

£19.23 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Château de Chambert, Cahors, 2010, South West France , France

Gold medal winner Food Match

Impact and versatility won not only Gold but a share in the Pulled Pork Food Match Trophy for this characterful Cahors. Team leader Angela Reddin enjoyed the 'smoky oak and bitter chocolate aromas with black hedgerow fruits', also noting: 'The palate has grip and tension, with dense and deep black fruit flavours, good power and drive. Needs time to knit more fully together.' Sweet, purple fruits offer dense, layered tannins and a long finish.

£12.75 Liberty Wines

Château St Martin de la Garrigue, Bronzinelle, Coteaux du Languedoc, 2013, Languedoc , France

Gold medal winner

Depth and complexity gave St Martin de la Garrigue Gold. 'With serious damson notes and star anise on the nose, the palate shows herbaceous layers alongside bright acidity,' said Bubbledogs' Sandia Chang, suggesting grilled leg of lamb. 'Plenty of spice on the nose here, attractive, crunchy red and black fruit compote with some raisiny intensity, a slight brett note and drying tannins,' added team leader Simon Woods.

£9.50 The Flying Corkscrew

Abbotts & Delaunay, Réserve, Côtes du Roussillon, 2014, Roussillon , France

Gold medal winner

Syrah, Grenache and Carignan from three of Roussillon's best zones plus a dash of oak ageing leads to this spicy Gold Lister. 'Big on the tannins – best to decant – with a red fruit finish; this is pleasant and price perfect,' said Mauro Pirovano of New Street Grill. Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don noted 'very fresh red and black fruit and good balance', while Charlotte Street Hotel's Mahesh Nair noted its 'soft tannins and great mouthfeel on a fruit-forward style'.

£6.14 Molson Coors

La Croix de St Jean, Lo Mainatge, Minervois, 2011, Languedoc , France

Gold medal winner

'Old school on the nose, developing,' began Xabier Álvarez-Valdés of Trangallán, continuing: 'Powerful, delivering plenty of ripeness on the palate with some minerality.' 'Bloody, meaty, spicy and polished, with sweet plum on the nose, full and smooth on the palate with well-integrated tannins, and elegance on a really long finish,' added Matthieu Longuère MS of Le Cordon Bleu, while Bubbledogs' Sandia Chang suggested game stew as the dish of choice.

£11.25 Liberty Wines

Foncalieu, Château Haut Gléon, Rouge, 2013, Corbiéres , France

Silver medal winner

'Stunningly good, but needs time,' said team leader Angela Reddin, speaking for all about this 'inky black' wine with its notes of 'dried berries, prunes and Christmas spice'. 'Spicy, chocolatey and brooding on the nose, full and spicy with good structure on the palate, lovely concentration and some complexity on the finish,' said Matthieu Longuère MS of Le Cordon Bleu.

£22.00 Fine Wines Direct , Hennings Wine Merchants

Château de Chambert, Grand Vin, Cahors, 2010, South West France , France

Silver medal winner

'Black fruits, leather and mushroom on the nose, with tobacco and spicy notes, high tannins and a good finish,' said Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don, adding: 'Good with steak, and will be very well balanced out in one or two years.' Team leader Sam Caporn MW agreed, noting the 'deep colour, depth of fruit and flavour, and good structure'.

£19.75 Liberty Wines

La Croix de St Jean, Lo Paire, Minervois, 2012, Languedoc , France

Silver medal winner

'Vanilla, some confected fruit notes, spice and black pepper with oak on the nose,' began Matthieu Longuère MS of Le Cordon Bleu, going on: 'Full-bodied and ripe, quite extracted yet fresh on the finish. A modern style, well made and polished.' 'Generous, oak-cloaked with a good fruit core, needs decanting!' added team leader Martin Lam.

£14.95 Liberty Wines

Philippe Grisard, St Jean de la Porte, Mondeuse Rouge, 2013, Savoie , France

Silver medal winner

'Soft, lifted and fruity with raspberry character, very juicy and delicious,' began team leader Martin Lam, with Xabier Alvarez of Trangallán adding: 'Fruity and bright, dry and clean, nice volume on the palate with great style.'

£10.30 Alpine Wines / Nick Dobson

Domaine of the Bee, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, 2013, Roussillon , France

Silver medal winner

Softly textured, with cedar notes and red fruit flavours, this is pretty and tasty. While Alessandro De Angelis of Le Pont de la Tour noted 'pencils and stone, flowery and elegant', team leader Angela Reddin said: 'Dried red berries and cranberry fruit with vanilla on the nose, nicely done oak on a lively palate, with great charm and balance overall.'

£13.50 Domaine of the Bee

Château de Rhodes, Chevalier de Rhodes, Gaillac Rouge, 2011, South West France , France

Silver medal winner

While team leader Sam Caporn MW said: 'Characterful and lightly herbal, with green notes and pine resin character,' Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don said: 'Smooth, spicy oak with leather and tobacco leaf aromas, very elegant on the palate, showing good balance and good body. Very well made.'

£7.25 Boutinot

LGI-Wines, Pavillon des Trois Arches, Merlot Pays d'Oc, 2015, Languedoc , France

Bronze medal winner

'Very fruity, with juicy red fruits and a strawberry-cherry balance; good acidity with a long, fresh fruit finish,' said Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don. 'Clean, uncluttered, fresh and happy,' agreed team leader Angela Reddin.

£5.75 Majestic Commercial

Villa Baulieu, Coteaux d'Aix en Provence, Rouge, 2012, Provence , France

Bronze medal winner

'Creamy, vanilla nose, black forest gateau scents with some earthy nuances,' began team leader Angela Reddin, concluding: 'Great for oak lovers, this is almost New World in style and power.'

£24.95 Liberty Wines

Mont Rocher, Malbec, Pays d'Oc, 2014, Languedoc , France

Bronze medal winner

Lovely integration of vanilla and cedar with ripe, structured tannins. Juicy and youthful, and calling out for a variety of savoury dishes.

£6.20 The Fine Wine Company

Dalmeran, MMX, Les Baux de Provence, 2010, Provence , France

Bronze medal winner

'Bready, Indian spices, leather and farmyardy notes on the nose,' said Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don, adding: 'Lots of tobacco with good medium-bodied style.' 'Violets and lovely notes of dark fruit with good structure,' added Mahesh Nair of Charlotte Street Hotel.

£15.00 The Flying Corkscrew

Baron de Badassière, Carignan, Côtes de Thau, 2014, Languedoc , France

Bronze medal winner

'Tobacco and cherry notes on the nose, crispy, soft and fresh on the palate, with raspberry fruit; a touch of bitterness at the end with violet floral undertones,' said consultant Luciana Girotto-Beckett.

£5.60 Liberty Wines

Cazes , Le Canon du Maréchal, Syrah/Grenache, 2015, Roussillon , France

Commended medal winner

£8.15 Liberty Wines

Château de St-Louis , A Capella, Corbières , 2013, Languedoc , France

Commended medal winner

Dalmeran, Cuvée Bastide, Les Baux de Provence, 2012, Provence , France

Commended medal winner

Gérard Bertrand, H de l'Hospitalet, Malbec, Pays d'Oc, 2014, Languedoc , France

Commended medal winner

£7.63 Bibendum Wine

Badet Clément, La Cour des Dames, Mourvèdre, Pays d'Oc, 2014, Languedoc , France

Commended medal winner

£5.01 Molson Coors

GCF Exclusif, Château Seguala, Tautavel, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, 2013, Roussillon , France

Commended medal winner

Domaine de la Perdrix , L'Empreinte, Côtes du Roussillon, 2012, Roussillon , France

Commended medal winner

Cazes , Ego, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, 2013, Roussillon , France

Commended medal winner

£11.95 Liberty Wines