The Oc, or ‘Pays d’Oc’ as you’ll see it on most labels, refers to the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France, known by the French as ‘Le Midi’.
Geographically the Oc covers an incredibly broad swathe of vineyards from the Rhône delta in the middle of southern France, arcing all the way round to the Spanish border on her Mediterranean seaboard. Planted here are both traditional grape varieties such as Grenache Gris (which makes very fine rosé) and Grenache Noir (try Pasquiers for a full-bodied flavoursome find); as well as the ‘cépages améliorateurs’ (varieties introduced in the last twenty to thirty years) such as Syrah and Merlot for reds, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc for whites. Eric Monnin, Boutinot’s winemaker responsible for the Languedoc, is constantly on the look-out for producers who have hidden gems, visiting domains, seeking out new parcels as well as counselling winemakers before the harvest on for example, softening harsh tannins in reds or retaining acidity and expressing aromatics in whites. Then once the grapes have been picked, vinified and the wines barely finished, he tastes these ‘brut de cuve’ wines intensively and repeatedly over the next six months in collaboration with Samantha Bailey and Kim Tidy to select and blend the styles we seek and decide on their maturation, optimum bottling month and release date to the market.