Why I Love the Wines of France’s Languedoc Region
I am so in love with the wines from the Languedoc. Not only is the Languedoc one of France’s oldest wine regions, dating back over two thousand years, it is also the source of some of the best value French wines you can find, and an exciting hotbed of innovative winemaking.
Writing from Montagnac, in the heart of the Languedoc, I have been discovering and savoring a host of exciting Languedoc wines over the past few weeks.
Last week I posted about my sparkling wine discoveries, many of them available in the United States. Today I am going to focus on a more general overview.
The Languedoc Region
First, let me put the region in context. The Languedoc is France’s largest wine producing wine region. While the earliest AOC appellations granted in France (AOC Fitou, AOC Cairette de Languedoc and sweet Muscat AOCs) were in the Languedoc, unfortunately the region developed a poor reputation for the production of industrial levels of poor quality plonk. This has changed over the past twenty five or so years, thanks to the high quality and reputation of producers such as Mas de Daumas Gassac, Mas Julien and Grange des Pères, as well as to the dynamic and pioneering efforts of people such as Jean-Claude Mas (Domaines Paul Mas) — to name but a few.
As a result, today the Languedoc is not only a source of excellent and age worthy wines, but a source of some of France’s greatest value wines with most available for less than $20.
Blends vs. Varietal Wines
While today there are many varietal wines produced in the region, the Languedoc is essentially a region of blends – with Syrah, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan for reds and rose wines, and Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier and an increasing incidence of Vermentino and Chenin Blanc for whites.
From what I am tasting here, the Languedoc is a superb example of the whole being greater than the sum of the individual parts.
While you will find plenty ambitious, extracted wines, what really distinguishes the red wines of the Languedoc for me is their freshness and the vibrancy of black fruit flavors — and a judicious use of mainly older oak.
For the whites, there is also a visible move to brighter, fresher wines. The inclusion of varieties such as Vermentino and Chenin Blanc brings the extra acidity, and the traditional varieties ensure than the wonderful and unique, herbal – garrigue like spicy character and rich mouth feel is not lost.
As well as the over-arching AOC Languedoc appellation, look for wines from the well-known AOCs of Faugères, Corbières, St. Chinian, Pic Saint Loup and Picpoul de Pinet, as well those from newer and lesser known appellations of Montpeyroux and Terrasses du Larsac.
Producers to Seek Out
While there are many producers and wines to choose from, some of my favorites available in the United States include:
- Domaines Paul Mas (throughout the Languedoc)
- Domaine des Deux Anes (Corbieres)
- Mas de Daumas Gassac (Aniane)
- Mas Julien (Montpeyroux)
- La Croix Chaptal (Terrasses du Larsac)
- Domaine Rimbert (St. Chinian)
- L’Ormarine (Picpoul de Pinet)
- Mas Belles Eaux (Languedoc / Pezenas)
- Domaine Laurent Miguel (St. Chinian)
I would love to hear from readers on their discoveries from the Languedoc.