One of the issues with Languedoc region is the lack of distinctive styles from one sub region to another. Obviously there are nuances like within every region, but the most popular style seems to somewhat suppress the differences. From consumers point of view all the different appelations don’t feel justified. Whether consumer point of view should count in the AOC-system made to protect originality of the region is another conversation. To me it seems that they are making things quite difficult in order to claim they have an identity that many times doesn’t taste in the glass. But enough with the rant, let’s get to positive matters.
Don’t blame yourself if you’ve never heard of Malepere AOC. I hadn’t either before I tasted 30 odd wines from the AOC a few weeks back. The wines of the appellation are mostly sold locally (only 20% are exported) and the small family companies that make up the vast majority of the producers are not big in marketing to put it mildly.
What separates Malepere from the rest is the use of Cabernet Franc in the blends. I was skeptical of the concept before tasting but was forced to change my opinion while sipping and spitting. The variety seems to work very well in Malpere providing classic notes of bell pepper, building up decent structure and increasing overall complexity. Dash of Cab Franc makes the difference.
The story behind the use of Cab Franc is not the most romantic wine story. Scientific approach was used in the 70’s to determine which varieties would suit the region best. One of them was Cab Franc and though people had doubts in the beginning, they soon made the same conclusions I did. Proof is in the glass and if something works, just go with it and stop over analyzing. Recognizable style in Languedoc context is a good start for recognition.
This Western part of Languedoc is an interesting region. It’s the final frontier for so called Atlantic varieties. According to Ryan O’Connel (making wine near Carcassonne in the Cabardès AOC) coastal areas of Languedoc enjoy often sunshine when Cabardès and Malepere fall under a cloud. Two weather systems collide above the AOC’s which seems to provide wines with some needed freshness. Watching forecasts predicting sunshine everywhere except your place may feel depressing, as Ryan put it, but in the end it seems to be good thing for the wines!
There it is in short. I apologize for writing in haste but I feel like getting this post out of my system before continuing to taste Crozes-Hermitage wines over a dinner with producers in down town Lyon. A glass or two of wine? Why not.