Wines of Languedoc
Remarkably, the wine region today considered to be one of the most exciting and innovative in France was a place that until the 1990’s few wine drinkers in the United States had ever even heard of.
--from Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible
Languedoc: The Basics
Where: A large region in the south encompassing the western half of the Mediterranean coast, between Provence and the border with Spain. Also known as Languedoc-Roussillon.
What: Traditionally best-known for red blends with Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan, now also home to a wide variety of international varieties, most prominently including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for reds; Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for whites.
What makes it notable: Languedoc is the largest wine-producing region not only in France, but in the entire world. Historically it has produced most of the bulk table wine in France. In recent decades, a new generation of creative, often environmentally-conscious winemakers have begun producing some truly fine wines, at much lower price tags than are common in the more prestigious regions.
Rules regarding winemaking are also less restrictive in the Languedoc than in Burgundy or Bordeaux, for example. It is one of the few regions where the grape varietal is often listed on the label. While it is nearly impossible to generalize characteristics of Languedoc wines due to the wide variety of styles and varietals, the hot Languedoc sun and Mediterranean climate tends to produce wines that are rich and fuller bodied.
Classifications: Wines labelled by grape varietal or with proprietary winemaker names are designated with the classification Vins de Pays d’Oc. These include both average table wines, and some of the best and most interesting personality-driven wines. There are also 25 appellations in the French AOC classification system, including Minervois, Corbieres and Limoux.