Three interesting Pays d’Oc wines: Nielluccio, Roussanne/Viognier and a Syrah-led red blend

The Languedoc is an interesting place to grow wine grapes, with lots of great terroirs and also a climate conducive to viticulture. Its legacy of feeding the bulk markets of the thirsty north have caused some structural problems, but it’s busy shifting its focus from quantity to quality. As well as the many excellent AOPs, wines are also made under the Pays D’Oc banner, which allows other varieties and a bit more freedom to experiment. Here are three very impressive examples.

Domaine de Paraza oh la la! 2020 Pays d’Oc, France
14.5% alcohol. 60% Syrah, 20% Marselan, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. This is ripe and floral on the nose with lush, sweet black cherries and a touch of plum. The palate is ripe, fresh and pure with luxurious sweet berry fruits with a sense of deliciousness and a touch of pepper and a bit of grainy grip on the finish. I love the combination of ripeness with purity and freshness. A lot to like here, and a real bargain. 92/100 (French retail 7.50€)

Domaine la Cendrillon Nielluccio 2020 Pays d’Oc, France
14.5% alcohol. Organic. Nielluccio is the Corsican name for Sangiovese, and this was vinified whole bunch without sulfites. This is fine, expressive and really fresh with floral cherry and berry fruit, a touch of grippy tannin, some fine tar and spice notes, and lovely fruit intensity. A really impressive, concentrated expression of Sangiovese with fruit to the fore, and potential for development. 93/100 (French retail 10€)

Bruno Andreu Elixir 2020 Pays d’Oc, France
13% alcohol. Aged 12 months in new French oak, this is a blend of Roussanne and Viognier. This is wonderfully floral on the nose with apricot, honey, persimmon and lime. The palate is concentrated and crystalline, with good acidity under a textured wash of apricot, pineapple, mango and pear, with some stony notes and a touch of almond. A really beautiful, layered wine showing incredible fruit intensity and personality, and it soaks up the oak beautifully, which only manifests itself in terms of a savoury spiciness on the finish. 93/100 (French retail 12€)

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