Regional France

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Regional France

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Marcel Orford-Williams Marcel Orford-Williams

Heroic efforts in 2018 and red-hot demand for pink in Provence

Even after all these years, it still amazes me just how big the Languedoc-Roussillon is. And at its eastern end it mingles with the Rhône, extending this huge expanse yet further.

2018 turned out very well with wines that have a little more freshness despite the heat. Nothing is ever easy and so 2018 had its challenges for sure, such as tropical-like rainstorms during the spring. It was a time for heroes like Alban Castillon. Alban is Pierre Besinet's son-in-law and generally in charge of viticulture at Domaine du Bosc. The problem he faced was getting access to the vines. What he did was devise a grid and plot where it was safe to send in his crews. He did so by using old and expendable tractors and painstakingly eliminated zones where tractors couldn't go. Those could be done by hand. And of course, work was non stop, Sundays included, and often throughout the night. The result is in the glass of The Society's French Dry White, quite possibly the best the estate has ever done.

Exploration is always a feature of my visits and this year it was the turn of the Roussillon. 2018 is a great vintage but I visited new suppliers which will allow us to explore the Deep South in greater detail over the coming years. A first dividend will be an all new Society's French Grenache.

For the second year in succession, I also decided to spend a little time tasting pinks in Provence. They are all the rage at the moment and the market is such that some cellars had 'sold out' even before any grapes had been picked! On top of that, both 2017 and 2018 vintages in Provence were short, for different reasons. The news is that quality of 2018 is very good and that there will be one or two new names for members to get behind.

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