Often grouped together, Languedoc and all the Côtes du Roussillon AOPs are under the umbrella of this vast region. Starting in the south in Nîmes and Montpellier, stretching all the way along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to the Spanish border.
Languedoc happened to be one of the first regions the Romans planted vines in and began cultivating grapes for wine. Ever since, it has continued to grow and produce large quantities of wine, and with the eventual introduction of the railway system, demand only grew further with the simple table wines produced required to be accessed by northern France. Cooperatives became dominant, and continue to reign supreme in the region today.
Combined in the 1980s, Languedoc and Roussillon came together to form the administrative region of Languedoc-Roussillon, adding the Department of Lozère to the mix. While combined in name and governance, the geography and culture continues to remain separate and diverse. Languedoc has been considered part of the country of France since the 13th century and is a quintessential French region. Centuries ago it was all deemed a territory of Occitan speakers, drawing out of a name of ‘language of Oc’ eventuating to ‘Langue-d’Oc’. Comparatively, Roussillon was not taken from Spain until the 17th century, with remnants of Spanish and Catalan culture still strong throughout the region.
To this day the term Languedoc and Languedoc-Roussillon is often considered interchangeable as it is assumed to include both regions no matter the term used. In 2016 the ruling of a new entity, the Occitanie, further encompassed land further north and east with Gascony and the Lot Department joining the d’Oc. The new encompassed region continues to work on changing its reputation for mass produced Vin de France wines, to becoming a specialist in the field and bringing in highly skilled vignerons to boost the quality of smaller production wines.
Climate & Soil
As a whole, the region is very dry and hot, heavily influenced by the Mediterranean. The Languedoc vineyards tend to be planted on flat, coastal plains, where a significant portion of the Vin de France red wines are produced. Compared to the Roussillon plantings being on cliff tops and in foothills of the Pyrenees. Across the whole sector, it is primarily a terroir of ‘garrigue’, a typical French landscape of the south consisting of low shrubland that is quite dry and found on limestone soils.
Carignan is the primary varietal of the Languedoc, Fitou, Corbieres, and Minervois appellations where schist and garrigue-covered terroir is rife. The old and gnarled stumps of Carignan thrive in this soil and produces highly concentrated and tannic deep red wines. Then often blended with current varietals popular across Rhône such as Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Grenache is the favoured blend of the east, with Syrah to the west.
IGP Pays d’Oc is the most important wine produced in the region, with a variety of other IGP wines labelled by varietal also growing in number. Without the prestige of vineyard names to back them (like Burgundy), in the Languedoc-Roussillon region the grape types are championed as the winemakers continue to grow their skills and form their signatures.
While predominantly a red wine region, white wine is slowly growing in interest for the winemakers as they blend together a myriad of varietals such as; Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Rolle, Maccabéo, Marsanne and Roussanne (from Rhône), as well as local varieties; Picpoul, Terret and Clairette.
Appellations of Languedoc:
Limoux, Malepere, Cabardès, Corbières, Corbières Boutenac, Fitou, Minervois, Minervois La Livinière, La Clape, Pinet Popsicle, Faugères, Saint-chinian, Pézenas, Montpellier sandstone, Terraces of Larzac, Montpeyroux, Pic Saint Loup
Appellations of Roussillon:
Coasts of Roussillon, Collioure, Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Muscat de Rivesaltes, Maury