Famed wine critic Jancis Robinson wrote recently about her trip to France's Limoux region:
Bargain Pinot Noir is thin on the ground. Indeed, cheap Pinots tend to be either thin or unappetisingly sweet and syrupy. But this Begude is a fine example from the pretty hills north of Limoux, the sparkling wine town in the far south west of the Languedoc described in Limoux's little bargains. James and Catherine Kinglake left Britain to try their hand as Languedoc vignerons in 2003 (see Pursuing a dream – as vignerons) to live in the house pictured above. I have followed their progress with interest over the years. Rather than make fizz, they have been producing varietal still wines, including some fine Chardonnay that is also good value.
Considering that we here at K&L have been importing the certified organic wines from Begude for some time now, you can bet we were thrilled with Jancis's little discovery. James and Catherine's bargain-priced pinot noir, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc are perennial customer favorites, as well as beloved weeknight warriors for our saucy staff, so we're excited about the expanded bandwidth. Jancis managed to sniff out these values herself and she adds an important note regarding the value of the Begude pinot noir:
These Limoux hills are highly suitable for Pinot Noir, as was proved many years ago at Domaine de l'Aigle at Roquetaillade, now part of the Gérard Bertrand empire. For reasons that make no sense to me, the red wine grapes sanctioned for the Limoux appellation are not Pinot Noir but a mix of Bordeaux and Rhône grapes, which is presumably why red Limoux is a rather minor player on the world wine stage – and why this delicious Pinot Noir has to be sold as an IGP Haute Vallée de l'Aude. And therefore only $12.99!!!
The secret is out! You can get delicious and delicate Limoux pinot noir for less than fifteen bucks. But this information stays between you, Jancis, and us!
2014 Domaine Begude Pinot Noir ($12.99) - Limoux reds are known mostly for Bordeaux and Rhone varietal blends, rather than pinot noir, but don't let esoteric piece of information stand in your way! The Domaine Begude pinot noir is one of the most popular bargain reds we sell here at K&L and the crisp, clean cherry flavors are the perfect complement to the oncoming Fall season.
16 points Jancis Robinson: "Pale cherry red. Pale rim. Obviously a delicate touch in the winemaking. Light vegy spectrum of Pinot scents and very refreshing too. There's a good core of just-ripe fruit underneath. This is already a good drink and has no surplus fat nor sweetness. Appetising dry finish. Very fine tannins. Good stuff! And, even if not a long-term bet, likely to be VGV. This is one of those beautifully balanced, lightweight Pinots that should be drunk young and could certainly be drunk cellar cool.(JR)" (08/2015)
2014 Domaine Begude Chardonnay "Le Bel Ange" ($11.99) - The creamy and rounder flavor profile of the Begude chardonnay makes it the perfect crossover for California drinkers in search of everyday value. While thoroughly French in style, the richness of the aromas and the rounder fruit flavors on the palate should please fans of any style. For the price, it's hard to do much better than this.
16 points Jancis Robinson: "Nutty and creamy nose with baked apple on the palate. Good length, good balance – it’d be hard to find a classic French Chardonnay with a better quality-to-price ratio. GV (RH)" (05/2015)
2014 Domaine Begude Sauvignon Blanc Pays d'Oc ($11.99) - Domaine Begude is a small, family-owned property located high in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Limoux region of the Languedoc. The long, cool growing season lends itself perfectly to the production of crisp and delicate wines, and this Sauvignon Blanc is no exception. More in the style of a Loire Valley Sancerre, with its fine, mineral-laden nose and fresh citrus fruits on the palate, this is the perfect accompaniment to grilled fish, oysters, or just by itself. Make this one your house white! Organically certified by Ecocert & NOP.