Generous and approachable yet flavourful and elegant, the wines from the sunny French Mediterranean coast are true ambassadors of their varied terroir.
Languedoc, a catch up phrase, encompasses all the different appellations west of the Rhone River, starting with Costieres de Nimes, Coteaux du Languedoc, St Chinian, Faugeres, Minervois, Limoux, Corbieres, Fitou, Riveslates, Cotes du Roussillon, Collioure, and Banyuls.
All told, Languedoc has more than 50,000 hectares under vines; which is more than all of Australia’s vineyards combined.
Languedoc is a rich mosaic of terroirs and appellations, and novices may be overwhelmed with all the brands, regardless of the fact that all wines contain more or less the same grape varieties being grenache, mourvedre, syrah, carignane, cabernet sauvignon, cinsault, merlot, pinot noir (all reds) and a few experimental ones. For whites sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and viognier dominate.
Pays d’Oc appellation encompasses all regions of Languedoc and Roussillon and was adopted in 1973 as vins de pays (country wines). While some are labelled geographically, others are by grape variety (85 per cent of the content of the grape variety on the label).
They can represent the best values, if a reputable winery is involved.
Roussillon’s viticulture was heavily influenced by neighbouring Spain (Catalonia); in fact mourvedre originates in Spain where it is called monastrell, carignane (carinena), grenache (garnacha). Most of these grapes yield generous, fruity, flavourful wines in the hands of skilful winemakers.
Corbieres is he largest appellation in Languedoc and contains several terroirs. Corbieres was granted AOC, now AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégé) in 1985. Approximately 85 per cent of the output is red.
Monervois was awarded AOP in 1985. It is hilly and vineyards are on high altitudes yielding grapes that yield light red wines more appealing to younger consumers.
St Chinan, situated on the foothills of the Cevennes Mountain, produces tannic reds in the north, and softer wines in teh south with clay and lime stone soils.
In addition to red vines mentioned above lledoner pelut is also used. St Chinian wines represent good value.
Malepere is the westernmost region of Laguedoc, and received appellation status in 2007.
Pic St Loup is one of the most successful regions noted for elegant, intense, deeply flavoured reds made using syrah, mourvedre, and grenache.
Viticulturists are now experimenting with white grape varieties on a variety of terroirs in an attempt to match grape varieties to the most appropriate terroir.