Languedoc Wine

Languedoc wines

Languedoc Wine

Languedoc takes its name from the language that was spoken, Oc, and compromises the départments of Gard, Hérault and Aude. The wine region of the Languedoc sweeps in a 200km arc from the mysterious wetlands of the Camargue to the hills of Corbières, north of Perpignan, extending further west as far as the medieval citadel of Carcassonne. Generalisations are difficult for what is the single largest wine region in the world – 300,000 hectares incorporating 30,000 winemakers most of whom supply vin ordinaire to over 300 co-operatives. However, affordable land and relatively broad appellation rules have allowed many young, enigmatic and adventurous vignerons to make their mark in exciting regions such as Pic St Loup, Faugères, Thongue and the Limoux.

Quick & Easy Guide to the wines of the Languedoc

Impress your friends with your mastery of the Langue d’Oc

This diverse, sun-kissed region, which stretches for 100 miles west from the Camargue along the coastal plains of the Mediterranean, has seen the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and survived invasions by Saracens and Barbarians. It has long been France’s most prolific vine area and still accounts for 1 in 10 bottles of wine in the world but, in the 21st Century, a new wave of vignerons independents are squarely putting the focus on quality rather than quantity. The Languedoc is one of the most exciting and best-value hunting grounds for wine enthusiasts and the UK is the second largest export market for the wines, after Germany.

Area Under Vine:
150,000 hectares under vine extending across three départements – the Gard, Aude & Hérault. 40,000 hectares are AOC, the largest of which is Corbières (13,500)

Key AOCs:
Faugères, St Chinian, Minervois, Pic Saint Loup, Corbières, Picpoul de Pinet, Corbières, Fitou, Limoux

Principal grapes:
Carignan, although volumes are declining in favour of officially approved cépages améliorateurs, such as Grenache and Syrah. New plantings of fashionable Vin de Pays (now I.G.P.) varieties, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Don’t overlook local specialities like Picpoul de Pinet and Mauzac.

Notable domaines:
Mas Bruguière, Hortus, Château Estanilles, Thierry Navarre, Leon Barral, Mas de Daumas Gassac, Grange des Pères, Puech-Haut.

Local delicacies:
Brandade de Morue (salted cod with potatoes), Petits Pâtes de Pézenas (savoury spiced mince pies), Toulouse sausages, Pélardon and Roquefort cheeses, Boles de Picolat (pork and mince meatballs with garlic and parsley) and l’agneau sous la mère (milk and grass fed lamb).

Restaurants we like:
La Table de Julien (Montaren-et-Saint-Médiers), Le Bec à Vin (Uzès), Le Cep d’Or (Béziers), Le Vieux Four (Montpellier).

Famous people from the region:
Jean Jaurès (19th century labour activist), Jean Moulin (Resistance hero), Pierre-Paul Riquet (architect and creator of the Canal du Midi), Didier Auriol (1994 World Rally Champion), Jean Magrou (sculptor), Olivia Ruiz (née Blanc - pop singer), Charles Trenet (singer).

Things to do:
Attend a concert in the Roman arena in Nîmes; canoe underneath the Pont du Gard; rent a barge on the Canal du Midi; watch the water-jousting in Sète; visit the Place aux Herbes market in Uzès; sample the mussels and oysters fresh from the Bassin de Thau; walk up to the Cité fortress in Carcassonne or visit the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi.

Bien classique:
Pic Saint-Loup ‘L’Arbouse’: Mas Bruguière rouge.

Autre chose:
Picpoul de Pinet: Domaine Gaujal.