I’m beginning to think that Corbieres could be The Next BIG Thing in Wine, or the wider region around it! Maybe you don’t know what is Corbieres, is it a place, is it a grape, or even which country it comes from?
So lets start at the beginning. Corbieres is in France, in the Western Languedoc in the South of France. Here’s a couple of maps to start you off:
As you can see the wine region overall known as Languedoc-Roussilon stretches from Montpelier to Carcassonne and on to the border with Spain. It is a strange region for vineyards with the Mediterranean Sea on one side, mountains and hilly areas skirting the Pyrenees to the south, and soils ranging from chalk to schist being abundant. But ……. as usual, the Romans knew what they were doing and these are the oldest vineyards in France! Here’s a photo of typical landscape around Corbieres.
The grape varieties grown across this region are many and varied, for the reds, Carignan, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Syrah are the big five, but these last two are not “natural” to the region and were “imported” from the Rhône to help improve quality. For the whites, it’s Maccabeu, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul and Muscat, with Roussanne and Marsanne also having been added from the Rhône to improve flavour to blends. One last set of facts before I move on to Corbieres. This is the region producing the greatest quantity of wine in all of France, treble that of the Bordeaux region and …… more than the whole of Australia! But, quality has suffered as this became the hotbed of France’s table wine for decades, cheap plonk!
But now all of that is changing and this region is being described as the new New World of Wine with new young winemakers working alongside the older owners who know the terroir in great detail. Corbieres is a perfect example. Take a look at the map from The Wine Atlas:
Being able to choose a good quality wine from Corbieres means knowing how this large appellation is sub divided into 11 smaller appellations with the most promising in terms of quality wine being Boutenac, so do look out for wines from this particular sub appellation. See if you can find Boutenac on the map.
My personal choices for Corbières therefore are two sold by The Wine Society:
1. The Society’s Corbieres, Chateau Ollieux Romanis, Boutenac, Carignan + Grenache (£8.50)
2. Corbieres Grand Cuvee, Castelmaure Cooperative, Durban, Carignan + Grenache (£14.50)
Click each link for more details and tasting notes, go on Maliphant, you know you want to!!