Languedoc-Roussillon is the region with one of the largest wine-growing areas in the world. This wine region is made up of Languedoc and Roussillon which are undoubtedly the two oldest regions of French vineyards.
Languedoc-Roussillon has long suffered from a poor image of ordinary wines. But a terroir identification operation was carried out in the 1990s, aimed at ordering and introducing new grape varieties into the region. This transformation will be involved in the production of various wines ranging from reds, rosés and whites with high or low alcohol content to sun-drenched fruity aromas.
Today, Languedoc-Roussillon provides more than a third of French production and the quality of its red wines can rival the big names of Bordeaux and the Rhône. There are also some natural sweet wines very sought after for their typicity, particularly to accompany Christmas foie gras or chocolate desserts.
Languedoc: wines of the sun
Languedoc is a unique region in the French wine landscape: it is made up of a mosaic of vineyards and a very wide range of wines. After a huge leap forward in recent years, the region has become very attractive for lovers of discovery and wine tourists.
Terroir and Climate:
The Languedoc vineyard is immense and stretches from Fitou in the south to the city of Avignon in the northeast, crossing the ramparts of Carcassonne to the Cévennes, made up of a mosaic of vineyards, distributed between the edge southern part of the Massif Central, the Corbières and the Mediterranean within three departments: Aude, Hérault and Gard.
Languedoc is characterized by four distinct geological zones: the coastal plain, the Corbières mountains, the Garrigue and Piedmont. This diversity obviously makes its originality, bordered by a hot and dry climate throughout the year, the Mistral and the Tramontane are the local winds which make the Occitan vine leaves dance and sing, creating a north/south alternation bringing entries maritime and drier air coming from the land.
The establishment of vines on terraces or on hillsides depending on the maritime proximity or the relief gives varied aspects to the wines from different productions. Red wine reigns supreme, white and rosé are also influenced by Mediterranean temperatures. The notion of mass viticulture has given way in recent decades to quality and respect for traditions.
Grape varieties and History:
The regional heritage is extremely steeped in history with the establishment of vines by the Greeks from the 8th century BC, then by the work of the Romans thereafter. In the 11th century, the vines benefited from the expansion of abbeys in the region, then the opening of the Canal du Midi and finally the arrival of the railways. The phylloxera crisis will be fatal; the quality of the wines is then sacrificed to the profile of productivity. Today the vineyard has regained its identity and authenticity under the leadership of young, passionate winegrowers.
As for red grape varieties, Carignan, Grenache Noir and Syrah make up the majority of Languedoc production and as for white wines, we find Grenache Gris, Picpoul, Bourboulenc, Macabeu, Clairette and recently, marsanne, roussanne and vermentino.
The Limouxine region is renowned for its sparkling beverage: Blanquette made from the Mauzac, Chardonnay and Chenin grape varieties. Proud to have been able to prove that it is a pioneer in the production of sparkling wine in France ahead of Champagne.
Generally speaking, Languedoc red wines have a beautiful garnet red color. They are powerful, generous and robust with more and more elegance over the years. The few white wines are often dry and full, very fruity wines.
In addition to Protected Designation of Origin wines, there are numerous IGPs from Pays d'Hérault or Saint-Guilhem le Désert in both white and red varieties.
The main AOPs of Languedoc:
- Blanquette of Limoux
- Larzac terrace
Some IGPs not to be missed
- Pays d’Hérault IGP
- Pays de Caux
- Saint Guilhem the Desert
Roussillon: between sea and mountains
An amphitheater facing the Mediterranean, the Roussillon vineyard is the southernmost French vineyard. Surrounded by the three mountain ranges of Corbières, Canigou and Albères. Renowned for its natural sweet wines with fruity and sunny flavors from Catalonia and Spain, Roussillon is also an excellent producer of dry wines.
Terroirs and Climates:
There are three main river axes in the region: the Têt, the Tech and the Agly, so their arrangement has generated disturbances in relief and soil properties. There are varied soils: black and brown shales, granite arenas, clay-limestone which are swept by a climate rich in sunshine and stable, mild temperatures in winter. Summer is rather hot there and the exposure of the terraces is favorable for winemaking.
The particularity of the region lies in unpredictable rainfall which can create stormy rains which destroy entire crops. The ripening of the grapes in summer is favored by the Tramontane which blows without interruption during the summer period.
Born from black, white and gray Grenache, Banyuls, Banyuls Grand Cru, Maury Rivesaltes and Muscat de Rivesaltes are natural sweet white, red or amber wines with unique characteristics.
But Roussillon also produces dry wines for the three colors with local grape varieties similar to those found in Languedoc: Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Syrah or Cinsault for reds with assertive characters. And white grenache, macabeu, malvoisie, marsanne, roussanne and vermentino for the whites from Roussillon. The appellations are then as follows: Côtes du Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon-Villages and Collioure.
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