Bonjour, Mesdames et Messieurs. We are going to present Languedoc, where is located in Southern France along the Mediterranean Sea, is the origin of IGP Pays d’Oc which accounts for 67% of total IGP production in France and represent the largest French wine export. Although a large number of affordable, easy-drinking wines with fair quality from Pays d’Oc, there are several emerging sub-regions with multiple outstanding undervalued wine productions and varied terroir. Are you ready to discover the wine region that has affordable, exceptional wines beyond quantity?
The earliest viticulture was introduced by the Phocaeans, who were ancient Greeks from Asia minor, landed in Marseille of Provence, brought vines to Southern France including Provence, Languedoc and Roussillon. After that, the Romans reigned France in approximately 125 BC and built the first road which connected from Italy to Spain, so that it contributed to Languedoc’s first wine trade. In 1289, perhaps one of the oldest universities, the University of Montpellier was established by Catholic Church under Pope Nicholas IV, which the university involved in developing viticulture that has consolidated viticultural development in Languedoc until present. From 1776 to 1855, it was a renaissance of Languedoc’ wine commerce because of the constructed canal from Bordeaux to Languedoc, and the built railway from Paris to Marseille. Although detrimental phylloxera catastrophe was happened in 1863 which had destroyed vine-growing throughout Europe even rest of the world later, Languedoc was thriving again by 1900 as the top supplier of wine after replantation of vines with American rootstocks. In 1905, the initial French wine co-operative was founded, and there are roughly 150 co-operatives who take for 65% of total wine production in Languedoc at present.
This area has experienced Classic Mediterranean climate, see “Mediterranean, the blessed climate”, with ample sunshine, roughly 2530 hours. However, a unique rainy season occurs from March to summer months, sometimes if it happens until Autumn, it can be devasting for harvest like 2002. Also, winds are chief factors which influence Languedoc’s terroir as Mediterranean Sea breezes bring undesirable moisture to vineyards while strong winds blown from the north which counteract with the sea breezes that bring cooling air during summer and offset fungal diseases in Languedoc’s vineyard.
Three topographical zones
The region can be topographically catergorised as three distinctive zones.
- The coastal plains
The flat, fertile zone is situated along Mediterranean Sea with alluvial soil which produces a large quantity of easy-drinking wine under IGP
The mountainous, inland area possesses most aromatic, phenomenal wines with unique charming culinary herb notes under AOCs, which are impacted by balmy Mediterranean climate, sea breezes, cooling north winds, favourable limestone soil (also known as Garrigue) and the rain shadow effect (caused by peaks).
- Atlantic Corridor
Such a unique zone is located in western hilly border of Languedoc, where is affected by correlated, cooling Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, plants distinguishing Bordeaux varieties, perhaps the oldest sparkling wine region, Limoux is originated.
Renowned AOCs (including sparkling production)
White: Clairette du Languedoc, Limoux, Picpoul de Pinet
Red: Cabardès Corbières, Faugères, Fitou, La Clape, Languedoc, Limoux, Malepère, Minervois, Saint-Chinian, Terrasses du Larzac
(Some of them also produce a small amount of Rosè)
Sparkling: Blanquette de Limoux, Crèmant de Limoux, Blanquette Mèthode Ancestrale
Overall, although Pays d’Oc produces a large quantity of cheap wines, there are some rising wine regions with underrated wines that are looking forward for your purchase.
The Oxford Companion to Wine 4th Edition, Robinson. J and Harding. J.
French Wine Scholar, Study Manual, 6th Edition, Camus. J and Airey. L. M.