This spring, the editor of Jamie Oliver’s website visited the Languedoc to learn about the local food and wine culture. This visit resulted in a flurry of new food and wine videos and posts (and even more wineposts and food posts) on the website (which receives 3.7 million viewers each month!) It’s very exciting to see hundreds of people are already watching the videos just a day or two after they’ve been uploaded.
Jamie’s a big cooking personality and he’s got a dedicated following of unpretentious food lovers. Giving that audience a glimpse into kitchens and wineries in the Languedoc Roussillon is a big boon! So hurrah!
It was a real pleasure showing Danny (the editor) around some of the region’s winemakers and chefs who like to work from scratch and put a lot of love into their work just like Jamie.
Here are a couple of the videos featured on the site:
Jerome Ryon, chef at La Barbacane in l’Hotel de la Cité de Carcassonne
Ryan O’Connell, Liz O’Connell and Ben Darnault talk about wine in the Languedoc Roussillon
I’m wrapping up an excellent #Cabernet Day celebration and staring down a modest line of empties. Some of the greatest Cabs I’ve tasted in a while.
Live Party Cam
The live party cam is now turned off, but you can view the recording of it for posterity. I hope we didn’t say too many naughty things about Bordeaux Cabs. ;D
Part 1: Starts slow as we wind up to Cab Day with friends and family. We actually talk about a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with Cabernet. Such is life!
There’s actually a big dead spot in the middle when we ALL go down to visit the winery and taste my 2009 Cabernet brut de cuve. Oh well. The pitfalls of drinking and streaming.
We had a good turnout of winemakers, wine educators, wine journalists and all-around wine lovers. I met a man who remembered the people who owned my vineyard before the War of 39!!! How awesome is that?
Tonight was a huge opportunity for the Languedoc to show that we are capable of some epic Cabernets. I’m so happy that Rick Bakas was receptive to our being the only open-invitation French satellite for Cabernet Day. I also want to give props to Benajmin at the BIVB, Vicky Wine in Paris, and Kenny over in the Loire for throwing some sweet French Cab Day shindigs.
I think that I make wine in a very unique region, the Atlantic Corridor of the Languedoc Roussillon where we can make some pretty stellar Cabernet and Merlot. Like Bordeaux or Napa but with EVEN MORE sunshine. Cabernet Day is a great opportunity to show that off.
Another great thing about this day is that it allows us to invite wine lovers into our every day lives. I literally just emailed a bunch of people about an open house at the vineyard. It was an effortless wine tasting. People brought wines they were proud of. Other people just came to discover some good Cabs. But we all got to join together and drink some good wine. It’s a far cry from the sort of wine foires we’re used to where you have to stand behind a table for ten hours and mindlessly pour for people. Instead, we get to just enjoy some good wine in good company and hope that some of you enjoy tuning in.
The Internet allows for some wild new ways to communicate on wine and a region as diverse and varied as the Languedoc has everything to gain.
Alright, I’m gonna sign off because I’m rambling.
Figure Libre – Domaine Gayda, dark and brooding in the group. Mostly Cab Franc and I think it shows that off. Is cab franc cheating? I think it’s fair game. Sniffing the empty bottle: I get some real ripe pruney smells. I miss the time that this bottle was full.
Cabernet Sauvignon Prestige 1999 – Domaine de Combelle, A real delight. Surprisingly bright for a wine that’s been cellared so long. One of Benjamin Darnault‘s old projects. Made to last. Sniffing the empty bottle: smells a bit older with some sousbois and forest floor beside that wonderful dark fruit.
Juliet – Chateau Le Bouis, Juliet goes with Romeo and they come in an adorable cigar box packaging and the bottle label kind of looks like a cigar wrapper. Juliet is Cabernet Sauvignon and a beauty. I tweeted to the effect that she is not a shy Claire Daines Juliet. She is a bold, daring Juliet. A far cry from the child usually portrayed in the play but capturing some of the whimsy of that legendary star crossed lover. Sniffing the empty bottle: Much more delicate nose on the empty bottle.
Trah Lah Lah – O’Vineyards You know the policy. I don’t talk about my own wines here.
Proprietor’s Reserve – O’Vineyards
Proprietor’s Cab – O’Vineyards
O’Cabernet 2009 – O’Vineyards
LB – Domaine Baillat, I really like this big bold Cab that’s on dark fruit and berry and really shows some of the freshness that the region can show off. Sniffing the empty bottle: I get more liquorice on the nose and almost a candied quality.
A – Auzias, I didn’t get to taste this one but it got opened and I love the label. Can’t find the empty either. I’ll get a second chance at this later! Sorry for being a dope on the first go around. I promise to taste it soon.
Good wines all around. Thanks everybody for participating.
Benjamin Darnault is a wine consultant and technician who follows several different projects in the region. And he’s just released two new wines. The wines are good examples of the amazing value you can find in the Languedoc Roussillon, and what’s more, the story behind these wines provides an inspiring model for other grape growers and winemakers in the region who want to redefine the value of their grapes.
You see, the way cooperatives historically value grapes encourages grape growers toward bulk production. The viticulteur is paid by the kilo or per hectolitre. There are certain quality benchmarks, and growers can often sign up for a more demanding “cahier de charge” so that they will be paid MORE by the kilo or hectoliter. But the goal is still to hit certain quantitative benchmarks because you’re being paid for volume. A lot of the best parcels are actually devalued by this system because they produce less fruit. Quality often plays second fiddle to quantity.
But out of this tragedy comes great hope. Benjamin Darnault looks for the parcels that are undervalued by the co-op. He says that these parcels create a quality of grape that would be much more valuable if separated and vinified as a small-production wine. Cooperatives are good at volume, but (save for a few exceptions) they don’t necessarily know what to do with their best parcels. These parcels can make several thousands of bottles of great wine if kept separate, but some Co-ops can’t even fill the pipes with that small an amount.
So Ben creates value by keeping these wines separate. And he’s been successful, finding a large amount of support from the community at Naked Wines who actually financed this first release (a story worth an entire post). It’s all very interesting and I hope you enjoy the video.
I don’t want to pretend that this is revolutionary. Co-ops very commonly try to do an “haut de gamme”. A lot of growers try to make a bit of wine on their own while selling the bulk of their production to the cooperatif. But at the same time, something feels very unique about this story. Maybe it’s the way Ben is interacting with his UK importer Naked. The wine is sold all the way to final customers before he’s ever bottled it. That’s impressive! It gives you a lot of hope for some of the wine communities around here that are having trouble making ends meet. Maybe they can all adopt this sort of model one day.
Here’s the video introduction on Naked’s site:
Benjamin Darnault 2009, Benjamin Darnault, AOC Minervois
Benjamin Darnault Vielle Reserve 2008, Benjamin Darnault, AOC Minervois la Liviniere