On Saturday the 31st of August, the Southbank underwent a stunning transformation from the typical hustle and bustle of the city of London into the relaxed, sunny Languedoc-Roussillon in the South of France. For one day only, visitors were transported across the Channel to sample all the joys France has to offer in this event conceived by Sud de France, an organisation that champions the ‘Joie de Vivre’ Mediterranean style of life that infuses the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region.
Unusually hot weather graced the banks of the Thames, which served to further London’s metamorphosis into the South of France. The team at Sud de France must have brought the sun with them, after all, Languedoc-Roussillon famously boasts 300 days of sunshine a year!
Treated to an abundance of French wine, delicious food, music and first-class entertainment, the Winerist team spent the day in the sun watching wine, food and French culture lovers come alive over duck burgers, oysters and regional wines.
Our day started with a perfect French breakfast of croissants, pains of chocolat and succulent peaches and apricots which had travelled all the way from France. After a short intro to the region of Languedoc-Roussillon, we sipped some sparkling wine by the strip of sand and leafy surroundings of the Southbank.
The Sud de France and Languedoc-Roussillon is the world’s largest wine producing region. Here vines grow across a large strip of land with famous growers producing delicious wines by the Mediterranean coast in the hills, starting on the Spanish border and ending with the Camargue and the Rhone Valley. Thanks to several regional ambassadors and regional producers, you can find great vintages here with over 35 appellations and crus producing an array of reds, whites, roses, sparkling and sweet wines. There are more than 300,000 hectares of vineyards with an annual production of 2 billion bottles and average yields of around 42 hectolitres per hectare throughout the region. As you can see, the region is certainly one of great fertility with plenty on offer.
In recent years, this fruitful region has become popular for British winemakers who take a lot of pride in producing biodynamic wines. There is plenty of choice and since the wine tastes better at its source, here are some producers we recommend for your next visit to Languedoc-Roussillon!
Now back to the Festival and to our highlights from this day spent in the South!
French food is world renowned, and it’s safe to say that the food at the Festival was nothing short of divine. With delicacies such as artisan breads, pastes, charcuterie, cheese, olives, oreillette and fresh fruit on offer, we tasted plenty of sweet and savoury specialities from the region. We really enjoyed the gourmet pastes from Saveur Sud in the form of artichoke paste with garlic and walnuts to sweet fennel and herbs. They use 40 year old family recipes from the French Catalonia region to lovingly bring out flavours of the Mediterranean vegetables and nuts. However, the highlight for us was the Duck Confit Burger with Goats Cheese and Truffle Honey on a toasted Brioche. The Frenchie UK, the mastermind behind this sumptuous creation, is a company you want to keep in mind. They organise events and pop up to serve their culinary delights at various festivals and occasions around London. The gorgeous smell alone was enough to entice people to queue for up to 30 minutes to grab one of these famed burgers. Make sure to watch this space as they know what they are doing…
From the Cote du Rhone to Faugeres and Limoux we tasted beautiful wines, biodynamic, sparkling and rich reds. We were impressed by the enormous selection, and the white wines from Chateau Grezan were most certainly a highlight. The Gerard Bertrand stand never disappoints, and we enjoyed tasting their wines in London whilst reminiscing about the region they originated in.
Languedoc-Roussillon is a superb region to discover. If you are uncertain, but would like to enjoy some of the region’s best wines, Roberson Wine is a great starting point. The team at Roberson did a great job of teaching members of the public about wines through a pop up version of the Roberson Wine School. Back to school we went, led by our knowledgeable hosts, to learn about the gastronomy of the region, which sparklings to try next and why the region’s red wines have so much to offer.
The Sud de France Festival did not just bring the best of their regional wines, but also delighted us with their French craft beers and legendary liqueurs. We were intrigued by the quinine-flavoured Byrrh, a wine based liqueur, that is perfect served as an aperitifs or as a refreshing cocktail. This drink was invented in the 19th century, and you can still visit this historical cellar and be transported in time. We also tried the unique beers from Meduz Brewery, which produces unpasteurised and bottle fermented beers. Both were a new, but very welcome experience to us!
The Festival was a great place for both adults and children alike. Sand castle building competitions took place throughout the day for children to show off their architectural prowess, whilst the parents could relax along the Southbank with some live music and talented DJs who travelled across the channel to entertain the crowd. A highlight was the little giveaways in the form of mini desserts, pastries and fresh apricots.
For all the reasons listed above, and many more on top, we named Languedoc-Roussillon one of the Winerist’s regions to watch in 2013. Known for being less pretentious and a lot more affordable than its neighbours, the allure and offerings of this part of France never ceases to amaze.
Access our Regional Guide for more in-depth information on the South of France and Languedoc-Roussillon. You can also be inspired to plan your next trip with our top Wine Tours, Wine Hotels and Wineries in the region. ‘Joie de Vivre’ is the motto of this beautiful Southern French region, a motto we saw come alive at the Festival through the exquisite food, wine and culture.
To arrange your winery visit or wine ecape to Laguedoc-Roussillion, please contact Winerist at email@example.com or call us on +44 20 7096 1006.
Written by: Diana Isac, Tatiana Livesey and Louise Jones.