Introducing Les Vignobles Foncalieu

Peter Morrell tastes some of the wines made by this highly respected French wine producer

Quilon restaurant in Westminster was the venue for a recent meeting with the representatives of Les Vignobles Foncalieu, a renown French wine producer founded more than 100 years ago. Firstly some statistics, their wines are produced in three regions, the Languedoc, Gascogny and the Rhône Valley. Across these regions they manage 1000 vineyards covering 4500 hectares, that is an area of about 6000 football pitches and produce 20 separate appellations

Before sitting down for dinner our evening started with sampling four wines from the Languedoc region. I used to take my children to this part of France 30 years ago, at that time the region produced a large volume of basic ‘Vin de Table’ wine. What a difference three decades has made, a combination of good vineyard management and knowledgeable vintners have made this one of best regions in France for high quality wines.

All the samples were single varietals, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Noir, a Grenache and the big surprise an Albarino, a grape normally associated with Spain. They were all good, I particularly liked the aromatic Albarino 2014 from the Les Extraordinaires range and the delicately fruity Le Versant Grenache Rosé.

The tasting and food matching was being held at the Indian restaurant Quilon where Head Chef, the Michelin starred Sriram Aylur, is renown for the lightness of his South West Indian dishes. So these light wines paired well with the pepper shrimp and soya bean chop canapés.

The next two wines both from Languedoc were the match with the starter. They were the Le Versant Viognier 2014 and the Domain Haut Gléon Gris 2015 which was a blend of Grenache Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both of these wines were quite assertive with the lotus lamb chop, the curry leaf and lentil crusted fish and the coconut cream chicken. The Viognier had lovely floral notes and the Haut Gléon showed a lot of fruit flavours.

Four wines were the companions for the main course were all blends. The Chateau Haut Gléon Blanc 2014 and the Chateau Haut Gléon Rose 2015 both Corbiéres. There was the Atelier Prestige Le Lien 2013, a Minervois and the Atelier Prestige Les Illustres 2012, from the Coteaux D’Enserune which is just south of Beziers.

They all provided interesting foils to the main course of prawn masala, lamb biryani, mangalorean chicken and paratha. For a cooling effect the blanc and the rosé­ were ideal and the spiciness of the reds were a complement to the aromatic ingredients. Grape wise the Roussanne in the blanc introduced a herbal tea flavour, while the Syrah in the rosé introduced soft fruit. The reds gave the lamb and the chicken a run for their money with smooth, well structured tannins.

The last two wines were served with dessert, the Les Extraordinaires Griset Gris De Gris made with Sauvignon Gris and the Les Extraordinaries Syrah and Viognier Rouge which was a blend of these two grapes. The dishes for pudding were baked yoghurt and bibinca, a multi-layers celebration cake. Sauvignon Gris, a variant of Blanc produces a slightly heavier sweeter wine and it worked well with the desserts. The jamminess of the Syrah in the red was tempered by the addition of 20% Viognier.

This had been a fascinating introduction to the wines from Les Vignobles Foncalieu and it had showcased both the breadth of their range and the consistently high quality that they achieve. It also demonstrated how versatile the wines are when being matched with food. These wines and others from this winemaker are available from good independent wine merchants in the UK and Ireland. See below for a summary of the twelve wines and who stocks them

For more information on Les Vignobles Foncalieu visit

Wine Details

Albarino 2014 Vin de France – Les Extraordinaires range
100% Albarino
Stockists – McHugh’s Off Licence (Dublin), Hennings Wine Merchants (Pulborough), Bon Coeur Fine Wines (Masham) – RRP £12.00

Le Versant Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Pays d’Oc IGP
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Stockists – Hennings Wine Merchants (Pulborough), McHugh’s Off Licence (Dublin), The Secret Cellar (Kent), Laurence Philippe Wines (Chelmsford) – RRP £7.99

Le Versant Pinot Noir 2014 Pays d’Oc IGP
100% Pinot Noir
Stockists – Fullers Pubs, Hennings Wine Merchants (Pulborough), Inverarity Morton (Glasgow), Fine Wines Direct (Cardiff), Laurence Philippe Wines (Chelmsford), Albion Wine Shippers (London), Wine and Spirits Merchants (London), Tender Shoots Wine (Dublin), Bon Coeur Fine Wines (Masham), Talking Wines (Cirencester) – RRP £9.99

Le Versant Grenache Rosé 2015 Pays d’Oc IGP
100% Grenache Noir
Stockists – Fullers Pubs, McHugh’s Off Licence (Dublin), The Secret Cellar (Kent) – RRP £7.99

Le Versant Viognier 2014 Pays d’Oc
100% Viognier
Stockists – Fullers Pubs, Hennings Wine Merchants (Pulborough), Venus Wine and Spirits Merchants (London), Inverarity Morton (Glasgow), Bon Coeur Fine Wines (Masham), McHugh’s Off Licence (Dublin), Fine Wines Direct (Cardiff), The Secret Cellar (Kent), Albion Wine Shippers (London) – RRP £7.99

Domaine Haut Gléon Gris 2015 Vallee du Paradis IGP
30% Grenache Noir, 25% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon
Stockists – Hennings Wine Merchants (Pulborough), Inverarity Morton (Glasgow) – RRP £18.00

Chateau Haut Gléon Blanc 2014 Corbieres AOP
60% Roussanne, 40% Grenache Blanc
Stockists – Fine Wines Direct (Cardiff), Inverarity Morton (Glasgow), McHugh’s Off Licence (Dublin), IPL/ASDA (Leeds), The Vineking (Horley) – RRP £28.00

Chateau Haut Gléon Rosé 2015 Corbieres AOP
50% Syrah, 50% Grenache Noir
Stockists – Hennings Wine Merchants (Pulborough), Inverarity Morton (Glasgow) – RRP £25.00

Atelier Prestige Le Lein 2013 Minervois AOP
80% Syrah 20% Grenache Noiur
Stockists – Inverarity Morton (Glasgow), McHugh’s Off Licence (Dublin) – RRP £28.00

Atelier Prestige Les Illustres 2012 Coteaux D’Enserune IGP
60% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec
Stockists – Fine Wines Direct (Cardiff), Inverarity Morton (Glasgow), McHugh’s Off Licence (Dublin), The Vineking (Horley) – RRP £28.00

Griset Gris De Gris Pays d’Oc (Les Extraordinaires range)
100% Sauvignon Gris
Stockists – Inverarity Morton (Glasgow), Hennings Wine Merchants (Pulborough), Albion Wine Shippers (London) – RRP £7.99

Syrah and Viognier Rouge Pays d’Oc (Les Extraordinaires range)
80% Syrah, 20% Viognier
Stockists – Nectar Imports (Salisbury) – RRP £8.99