Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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St-Chinian, good-value, distinctive appellation in the languedoc in southern France which extends over spectacular, mountainous terrain in the foothills of the Cévennes between the minervois and faugères appellations (see map under languedoc). Most wine is characterful red but some fresh, dry rosé and a small volume of increasingly interesting whites are also made. The small town of St-Chinian itself is in the middle of the zone, which extends upwards and northwards as far as Vieussan, including Berlou and its respected co-operative, whose wines are sometimes labelled Berloup. A steady total of about 2,800 ha/6,900 acres is dedicated to the production of appellation wine within the zone, which can be divided into two very different sections. In the northern zone around Berlou and Roquebrun, which earned their own appellations St-Chinian Berlou and St-Chinian Roquebrun for red wines in 2005, vines at around 200 m/656 ft elevation grow on arid schists and yield low quantities of extremely sharply etched wines with distinct minerality. In the southern zone closer to St-Chinian itself, the (sometimes purple) clays and limestone, typically at about 100 m, tend to result in fuller, softer wines. Carignan vines, limited to 30% of any red, are being gradually replaced by Syrah, Grenache, Lladoner Pelut, and Mourvèdre. Grenache Blanc, with Marsanne, Roussanne and some Vermentino are the main white grapes. Many producers here also grow other varieties with which to make some excellent igp wines.