Faugères is an appellation that originally was part of Coteaux du Languedoc, but was entirely split off when the unique quality of its wines was realized. Since its emancipation in the mid-1980s, Faugères has developed its own style, but is still a bit overlooked in favor of the larger appellations.
At a little under 5,000 acres, Faugères has a competitive size, and production numbers are high. The vineyards are located among the hills of seven specific villages, one of which is the titular Faugères. Most of the wines are red GSM blends.
While Faugères' borders were declared as early as the 1940s, the appellation was only split off officially from Coteaux du Languedoc in 1982. Initially, white wines still had to label themselves as Coteaux du Languedoc, and it was only in 2005 that they were allowed into the Faugères appellation.
Climate and Viticulture
The mountains and hills that source the great majority of Faugères production are generally composed of schist, peppered here and there with Burgundy-like clay and limestone. The soil actually looks light and arid, and in fact doesn't look particularly conducive to wine growth. But looks can be deceiving, and the beautiful Mediterranean weather combined with the subterranean potential of the soil makes Faugères a worthy appellation.
Red grapes are virtually the same as in the rest of the Languedoc. Cinsaut, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre are the specifically permitted grapes--the same as Coteaux du Languedoc itself. White wines use Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne, and the Italian Vermentino. Whites make up only a tiny part of production. There are some cuvées made from one grape, such as varietal Syrah, since non-blends are allowed in Faugères; however, blends have remained usual.
In general, Faugères wines that are blends have powerful red fruit flavors with peppery nuances. They are ripe and fruity, and light- to medium-bodied. Two of the appellation's largest producers come highly recommended.
- Château des Estanilles: At this château, the Cuvée Syrah shows Languedoc Syrah at its richest: with ripe, smooth black fruit and classical pepper nuances. The wine is highly structured; for a more sweet, generous example, look for the Cuvée Prestige with its lush red fruit and smoky game. The Tradition Rosé has lively red fruit and is less austere than most other rosés of the appellation, while the Rosé de Mourvèdre is rich and spicy with a honeyed, exotic tinge rarely observed in rosés.
- Domaine Leon Barral: The best of these wines are concentrated, with immense power behind their fresh, perfectly rounded black fruit and pepper flavors. The Cuvée Valinière is ripe and chocolaty, with sweet black fruit notes and intense tannic power. However, the most perfected wine is the Cuvée Jadis, with amazingly perfumed Syrah notes of black cherry and black pepper, as well as more exotic scents of musky earth, flowers and coffee. These heavily Rhône-like wines show the hilly potential of Faugères at its best.
Although often thought of as a sub-appellation of Coteaux du Languedoc due to the fact that it lies completely within its borders, Faugères has been a separate appellation since 1982. As such, it is has no subregions or terroirs of its own.