Languedoc Roussillon vineyards comprise the world’s largest wine growing region across a vast area of southern France where the Romans first introduced viticulture to the country centuries ago.
Although the majority of wines produced here still fall under vin ordinaire (table wine) and vins de pays (country wine) classifications, Languedoc vineyards are finally shrugging off their reputation for concentrating on quantity over quality. The traditional mass production Carignan grape variety has been gradually withdrawn to welcome red wine blends using Rhone grapes such as Grenache and Shiraz. There are now around 18 Languedoc Roussillon vineyards under the exalted regional Appellation d'origine controlee (AOC) classification that was introduced in 2008 – producing premium reds, whites, roses, sweet dessert wines and even sparkling varieties.
Raising the standards of the region’s wines, combined with a ubiquitous, sun-kissed Mediterranean climate and some of France’s most picturesque countryside, has led Languedoc Roussillon vineyards to become an increasingly popular travel destination for wine tourists.
At Wine Paths, our local experts can organise exclusive tours of Languedoc vineyards that can include elaborate tastings, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and unique activities across the region. The best time to visit the region is between mid-April and mid-October when the weather is at its finest. All of our tours can be tailor-made to meet your exact specifications, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and enjoy sampling some outstanding value wines.
Regarded by some as the ‘wild south’ of French wine making, Languedoc vineyards and wineries tend to be far less formal than some of the stuffy, traditional estates that dominate Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne. The wines from Languedoc Roussillon vineyards are all about blends, with the region often described as ‘patchwork’ since it permits so many different grape varieties to share the same space – while most producers make wines from blends as opposed to single varietals.
This is traditionally red wine country, although a smidgen of rose (particularly from Cinsaut, Shiraz and Grenache) and an increasing number of interesting white wines, made from a cocktail of grapes including local and imported Rhone varieties, are also attracting attention.
As well as being the country’s largest producer of vin de pays wines, Languedoc vineyards also accommodate more vins doux naturels than anywhere else in France – these ‘naturally sweet’ wines, using Muscat grapes for the whites and Grenache for the reds, have been fortified by brandy. And, a little-known fact is that the first sparkling wines were produced from Languedoc Roussillon vineyards in Limoux during the 13th century – the famous Dom Perignon is said to have learned the secret from Saint Hilaire monks during a visit before returning the recipe to Champagne.
Despite improving in all-round quality, Languedoc wines are still exceptionally well-priced despite some of the region’s wines offering a sophisticated Bordeaux-esque structure to support the wilder, more Mediterranean styles. As well as visiting Languedoc vineyards, there are wine festivals held throughout the year – the locals rarely need an excuse to celebrate with local cuisine, drinks and music – and, for food lovers, the truffle harvest takes place every year between mid-December and mid-February.
If you're interested in one of our Languedoc Wine Tours, please visit this link.
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