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Overview of France’s Languedoc-Roussillon Wine Region

A few months ago, I attended a fun and informative event hosted by Sud de France which showcased the French wine region known as Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France.  First, let me just say – ooohh weee, those French really know how to throw a party!

We sampled food from the region, like black truffle canapes and had a salt tasting from the famed Le Saunier de Camargue. There was an awesome band called “The Hot Sardines” that played Chansons Françaises while people danced, drank and laughed. And there was even a tap dancer!

red wine glasses

Part of the festivities included a very informative wine seminar with a wine blending class with a rep from Gérard Bertrand Wines.  Yes sir, I got to make my very own blend of three different reds from the region – Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.  Certainly nothing you’d buy in a fine wine store, but not bad for everyday drinking, if I do say so myself.

> Click here to watch my short wine blending video

I’ll be doing another post on all the great activities and places to visit within this lesser-known region, but today I wanted to focus on the Languedoc-Roussillon wines.

This wine region, which is really two separate areas of Southern France, has a ton of history.  In fact, it’s one of the largest and oldest growing regions, not only in France, but in the world.  Some of the over 700,000 acres of vines were planted in the fifth-century BC.

Many years ago, this area was known for producing cheap wine in large quantity. But these days, not only are the over 100 varieties of grapes growing, but the quality and popularity as well.  Over one third of France’s wine production now comes from the Sud de France, which produces red, white, rosé, sparkling and sweet wine.

Famous mostly for its reds, the region is really producing some very interesting, reasonably priced wines.  And since I’m all about value in both my wine and my travels, this area really appeals to me.  I’m a red wine lover, so that’s what I’ll be focused on today – but the area does make good whites and rosés as well.

It was very appropriate to attend a wine blending, because most of the red wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon are blends of Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignan, Syrah, Cab Franc (a fave) and Merlot grapes.

Other than the very diverse soils, one rather unique presence in Languedoc wines is something called garrigue. It’s a term for bushes and herbs that grow wild in the area which impart to the wine a distinctive herbal aroma and flavor. These intense reds that are baked by the hot sun, which shines for over 2500 hours a year, pair very well with local food specialties.  Think seafood, fruits and vegetables, wild mushrooms and of course – cheese.

One of the most common types of wine is known as Vins du Pays, which means ‘local wine’. But there are also many appellations, known as AOC wines. Over 36 to be exact.

Though it would take about 40 posts to explain the intricacies of the history, grapes, wine and terroir of this region, I will give a brief mention of a few areas, which are also located near interesting cities, villages or cultural attractions. The goal would be to combine a visit to the wine region with other attractions.

languedoc rouissillon wine region southern france

Photo Credit : Flickr


  • Minervois

This growing area is located in the Western Languedoc region and near the Canal du Midi, the city of Carcasonne and village of Minerve.  Vines have Roman roots and produce full bodied reds, that are required to be a blend.  Wines have good structure when consumed young, but aging for 2-3 years results in more tannic, silky wine.

  • Corbières

Located a bit closer to the sea, this large appellation is near the towns of Narbonne and Béziers.  Here you can find fine red wines that are rich, spicy and full, which age from 3-7 years.

  • Costières de Nîmes
Technically part of the Rhone AOC, this appellation is in the Eastern Roussillon between the sea and the city of Nîmes.  The city itself is worth a visit, if only for the Roman Ampitheatre.  The region’s vibrant capital Montepellier is also nearby and shouldn’t be missed.  In fact, it might make a good home base.
If you’re looking to sample some of the wines at home – look for the Sud de France logo on bottles.  Luckily, 2009-2011 have been excellent vintages, and 2010 reds are outstanding.

The best way to learn about and sample the wines from this region is by visiting local producers and vineyards during your travels to southern France.

For more information on the region’s wine and food products, visit Sud de France.com

 Thinking about a custom wine tour or tasting?  Get in touch so we can work together and design the perfect experience!

 

 

  • User Gravatar
    Kay
    November 13th, 2012

    You will be even more blown away when you come to visit and actually drink these great wines in the region the grapes grown! This area and it’s wine is definitely way underrated.

    Good – and I’d like to keep it that way Kay. Then crowds and prices stay manageable ;)

  • User Gravatar
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista
    November 13th, 2012

    What be better than tasting my way through France via it’s wine? Not much, huh? There is a little cellar in Avila Beach, CA that sells a Cinsault. We enjoyed a bottle the other night and can highly recommend it!

    Not many things could be better Debbie! Glad you found a local spot for some tasty Cinsault.

  • User Gravatar
    Charu
    November 20th, 2012

    I got a chance to blend my own wines in Napa recently too–so fun! Would love to visit one day

    I think we would have great fun blending wine together Charu. And then drinking it of course ;)
    Charu recently posted..14 Reasons To Fall In Love With Jerash, Jordan’s Cultural CapitalMy Profile

  • User Gravatar
    Jeff Titelius
    April 11th, 2014

    Having just returned from my trip to Bordeaux, this article is right up my alley or appellation I should say! I can’t tell you, or maybe I can, but I learned so much about wines during my week in France: appellations, blends, terroirs, etc. and now my thirst for wine articles is almost insatiable! Thank you for a great introduction to the wines of the Languedoc!

    Thanks Jeff. The two things LR wine have over Bordeaux wines – they are much more affordable and less complicated!
    Jeff Titelius recently posted..Of wine trails and chateaux in Bordeaux, France, with Viking River CruisesMy Profile

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