What to sip this summer… certified organic wines from IGP Pays d’Oc | THE BUYER

Organic wines were once something of a niche, confusing many consumers with their esoteric labels and sometimes unusual flavour profiles. But all that has changed in the last decade, and nowhere more than in France’s Pays d’Oc. The vineyard area that is farmed organically in France has almost trebled in 10 years, from 62 628 hectares in 2013 to 170 806 hectares in 2022, with consumer recognition at an all-time high of 87%. In a world that is more health-conscious than ever, the message is refreshingly clear: our vineyards are farmed naturally, without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers. Dominic Rippon delves into how organic viticulture is transforming the wines offered by IGP Pays d’Oc.

Dominic Rippon
11th May 2024by Dominic Rippon

posted in Tasting: Wine ,

Languedoc-Roussillon is by far France’s largest wine region, with 230,000 hectares of vines stretching from the Rhône river in the east all the way to the Pyrenees in the far south, so it’s no surprise that nearly a third of all France’s organic vineyards are planted here. For its part, IGP Pays d’Oc makes the equivalent of around 83 million bottles of organic wine, or vin biologique, each year, which represents more than half of Languedoc-Roussillon’s total organic wine production.

The rise of organic viticulture in Pays d’Oc is closely correlated with more general developments here in the last two decades, notably the improvements in winemaking technology and a burgeoning pool of talent, as well as an influx of investment to the region. Creative independent producers have been joined in their quest for quality by ambitious négociants and resurgent cooperative wine cellars, many of which now boast complete ranges of delicious organic wines.

Pays d'Oc organic wine

The Pays d’Oc region creates ideal conditions for vine health

But in truth, Pays d’Oc was always replete with natural advantages, making its vineyards the ideal home for organic viticulture. The southern sunshine that tempts so many tourists to Languedoc-Roussillon’s beaches, combined with the constant breezes that funnel down its valleys and blow in from the Mediterranean, create ideal conditions for vine health. This naturally reduces the need for vineyard treatments that are harder to avoid in cooler, damper areas.

Pays d’Oc’s organic growers will tell you enthusiastically of the benefits of “le bio,” not just for the health of soils, plants and drinkers, but for the way the wines themselves taste. Vines that are in balance with the ecosystem and are not fertilised into ultra-vigour producing grapes that mature slowly and fully, giving delicate wines with juicy, complex flavours and above all a purity and lightness of touch that make them the perfect choices for summer drinking!



Cinsault Rosé 2023, Domaine Moulinier, 12.5%

With a delicate onion skin colour, this varietal Cinsault comes from sandstone soils near Saint-Chinian. Its aromas are pure and attractive, with crunchy red fruits, pears and melon and a hint of spice. On the palate, the acidity is bracing, with delicate flavours and a pleasing, fat texture. Ripe fruit salad and summer fruit flavours and a touch of spice. There’s just a dash of residual sugar, but this is essentially a dry wine with a clean, direct finish. Drink with seafood salads. RRP €7 at cellar door. Available from: direct from the estate


Cinsault Rosé 2023, Domaine Py, 12%

Situated in the Corbières hills between Carcassonne and Narbonne, Domaine Py’s wines are firm favourites in the bars and bistros of both of the Aude’s main cities. This Cinsault rosé is both organic and biodynamic, grown on clay-limestone soils. Ultra-pale in colour, it is a true “vin gris” with a pretty, floral nose showing strawberries, boiled sweets and early season almonds. The wine has a light, airy feel on the palate, with a medium body and sweet berry fruit flavours. The acidity is good, helping the flavours to linger delicately. A great aperitif wine. RRP €8 at cellar door. Available from: direct from the estate


“Fandango” Rosé 2023, Domaine le Nouveau Monde, 13%

An excellent Grenache rosé from this 20-hectare organic estate in the seaside resort of Vendres Plage, near Béziers. Sandy soils and plentiful sunshine give a pale pink wine with aromas of strawberries and roses, with underlying savoury notes that hint at its food pairing potential. Flavours are exuberant, with a substantial, vinous mouthfeel; juicy, explosive fruits mid-palate, which linger beautifully on the finish. Try with spicy Mexican cuisine. RRP €9 at cellar door. Available from: direct from the estate


“LaPeyrière” Rosé Gris 2023, Villa Noria, 11%

Quite deep in hue for a “gris,” this is an attractive lees-aged Cinsault from a mixture of sandy and clay-limestone soils. Grapes are picked relatively late, giving aromas of ripe strawberries and candied lemons, complemented by vibrant red fruit flavours. Relatively low alcohol and a little residual sugar make this an easy-drinking off-dry rosé, to be enjoyed on its own and with hors d’oeuvres. This cuvée is also Vegan and uses reusable bottles. RRP €9 at cellar door. Available from: direct from the estate



Viognier 2023, Domaine Moulinier, 12,5%

Another entry from Domaine Moulinier – a pale golden Viognier with a wonderfully pure nose of honeysuckle, camomile, peaches and kiwi fruit. Equally delicate on the palate, with just the right acidic balance. Stone fruit flavours, no hint of flab or astringency, just soft and elegant, with a faint hint of spice on the finish. An interesting match for mild Oriental dishes, or pan-fried scallops. RRP €8.40 at cellar door. Available from: direct from the estate


“Marie” 2023, Maison Ventenac, 12%

In the Cabardès hills north of Carcassonne, Maison Ventenac’s wines are the products of cooling Atlantic influences as well as the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. Here, the Colombard grape lives up to its name as the Sauvignon of the Southwest, giving a wine that is greenish-yellow in colour, with grassy, mineral aromas. The palate shows excellent complexity: a blend of citrus, blackcurrant leaf and mint flavours. Acidity is present yet non-invasive, making for a zesty brew that is still unmistakably a vin de soleil. Enjoy with fresh oysters. RRP €7.90 at cellar door. Available from: UK importer – James Nicholson


“Sillages” Albariňo 2023, Vignobles Foncalieu, 13%

The Foncalieu cooperative cellar, just west of Carcassonne, likes to do things a little differently, as with this varietal Albariňo – a grape more commonly associated with Spain’s Rias Baixas and the vineyards of northern Portugal. In this western Languedoc incarnation, the wine explodes with peaches, limes, yellow flowers and green tea aromas. On the palate, a citrus attack gives way to ripe peaches and a slight astringent twang on the finish. Perfect for an eclectic seafood platter. RRP €9 at cellar door. Available from: UK importer – Inverarity Morton


“Grande Courtade” Chardonnay 2023, Famille Fabre, 13.5%

A pale golden Chardonnay from the Fabre family estate, in the heart of the Corbières area. 20% of the wine is aged on its lees in oak for 3 months. Aromas are floral with fresh fruit salad – sweet melon, kiwi fruit, bananas and ripe citrus. A very complete wine on the palate, with semi-tropical flavours, good body and a refined, rich finish. An ideal partner for tapas, especially gambas cooked in olive oil and garlic à la plancha. RRP €9 at cellar door. Available from: UK importer – Third Floor, off and on trade


“Scene no. 9” Chardonnay 2023, Domaine Ricardelle de Lautrec, 13%

With its stylish theatrical label, this biodynamic Chardonnay is lemon juice pale with flashes of green. Honeydew, nectarines and even grapes appear on the nose, and reappear on the palate with ample ripeness. Not notably high in acidity, this is a wine to enjoy while young and fresh, as an aperitif or with delicately flavoured white fish. RRP €10.50 at cellar door. Available from: UK importer – People’s Wine



“La Marouette” Grenache 2022, Jacques Frelin Vignobles 13%

An excellent value organic Grenache from the Jacques Frelin négociant house. Rich ruby in colour, it has a well-mannered, earthy nose – blackberries and morello cherries – clean as a whistle. Frank and straightforward on the palate, with a restrained attack, a burst of fruit mid-palate and ripe, grippy tannins. The wine’s freshness makes it a good foil for Tuna Tataki or vegetarian moussaka. RRP €7 at cellar door. Available from: direct from the estate


“Le Sentier” Pinot Noir 2022, Calmel & Joseph, 12.8%

The Calmel & Joseph micro-négociant house is located in the Corbières hills just south-east of Carcassonne. This cherry red Pinot is made from grapes that are hand-harvested from sandy clay slopes, then aged in oak for 6 months. Subtle and reticent on the nose, with faintly floral aromas of spiced cherry, redcurrant, undergrowth and a whiff of tangerine. The palate is light and airy, red fruits and delicate spice, with a gentle tannic bite. Pair with seared tuna steak or roasted veal. RRP €12 at cellar door. Available from: UK importer – Daniel Lambert Wines


Pinot Noir 2022, Domaine Saint-Paul, 13%

A classy Pinot, quite deeply coloured, from a clay-limestone plateau overlooking the Orb Valley. Its aromas are clean and finely etched: ripe cherries, roses and minerals. Wonderfully silky on the palate, with a fruit-driven attack which broadens into a rich, spicy middle. The acidity is well-balanced and the finish is long and savoury. This is a vegan wine, so why not try it with a creamy mushroom risotto. RRP €8.50 at cellar door. Available from: direct from the estate


Pinot Noir 2023, Domaine Py, 12.5%

An excellent value biodynamic gem from loamy clay soils at Domaine Py. Fairly pale in colour, this is a lean and sappy style of Pinot, with wild redcurrant and raspberry aromas. Flavours are of soft red fruits, with surprising amplitude – the mid-palate is particularly impressive, with a warm southern intensity that shines through what is the epitome of a fresh summer red. Serve with duck gizzard or chicken salads. RRP €7.50 at cellar door. Available from: direct from the estate


“Eve” 2023, Maison Ventenac, 13%

Another excellent wine from the ever-reliable Maison Ventenac, where the Syrah grape thrives in the relatively cool Cabardès hills just north of Carcassonne. Deep purplish in colour, with blackberries, blueberries and spice on the nose. Plenty of warmth and richness on the palate, a perfect balance of ripeness and restraint, tannin and acidity. A velvety structure combines with that slight graininess so characteristic of Syrah. Chill down a few degrees and enjoy with summer barbecues. RRP €7.90 at cellar door. Available from: UK importer – James Nicholson


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