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    EOL Coverage of Chefs Championships at IHMRS

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    Preparing Lobster for Competition

I Love French Wine and Food - A Midi Merlot

If you are looking for fine French wine and food, consider the Languedoc-Roussillon region of south central France. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour in which we review a local red Merlot.

Among France’s eleven wine-growing regions the Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest in total area and ranks number four in the vineyard acreage. This area, which includes the Midi, had been known for generating immense amounts of rather dubious table wine called vin ordinaire. Recently, in part because of Australian winemakers, the region started to produce a lot of fine wine. Like Alsace, and unlike most other regions of France, many Languedoc-Roussillon wines, such as the one reviewed below, are identified by their constituent grape variety on the label.

This lovely region is hardly uniform. For example, Languedoc is mostly flat; in contrast Roussillon is hilly. Several areas take advantage of their unique combination of microclimate and soil (terroir) to produce one or more local AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlé) wines. These wines are usually more expensive than their generic cousins. We intend to examine one or more such wines in this series. Languedoc-Roussillon has almost 50 AOC wine appellations; red, white, rosé, sparkling, and sweet. This diversity is not surprising given that the region grows over 30 grape varieties including Merlot, the single most important grape variety in Bordeaux.

Perpignan, settled first in Roman times, was founded over a millennium ago. It was the capital of Roussillon. Unlike most of the other cities and towns mentioned in this series, Perpignan rose up against French rule. Even though it lost the battle, France ceded it to Spain for several decades. You won’t have to look far to see Spanish influence. Salvador Dali, arguably one of Spain’s greatest modern artists, called its train station the center of the universe and said that he got his best ideas sitting in its waiting room. Small wonder that there is a monument honoring Dali above the station. Other sites to see include the historic downtown near the docks of the Basse River, the fortified Palais des Rois de Majorca (Palace of the Kings of Majorca), Le Castillet a former prison, and the Cathédrale St-Jean (Cathedral of St. John the Baptist). Unfortunately it’s a bit late to visit the city walls; they were torn down more than a century ago to let a growing city expand.

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