The vast French wine growing region of Languedoc Roussillon was once dismissed as only a source of mass produced table wines of questionable quality, but times are a changing…
A new generation of dedicated wine growers intent on raising standards in the world’s largest wine growing region, which encompasses 25% of all France’s vineyards, has been shifting away from high yield crops towards European style blends – bringing the best Languedoc wines to the attention of international audiences.
Not being one of the country’s more illustrious wine regions, Languedoc wine growers are less constricted by traditions that have been honoured throughout time in regions like Bordeaux or Burgundy – giving them greater opportunity to experiment. With around 300,000 hectares of vineyards scattered across virginal countryside of the southern region that stretches around the Mediterranean coast and is gifted with an average 300 days of annual sunshine, there is unsurprisingly a wide array of wines to choose from.
The best Languedoc wines are generally red wines made from blends of Rhone grapes such as Grenache and Shiraz with local varieties including Carignan, which was once considered prosaic but has since been rejuvenated by innovative farming techniques. Despite improving in all-round quality, even the best Languedoc wines are still exceptionally well-priced, including those offering a more sophisticated Bordeaux-esque structure to support the wilder, more Mediterranean styles.
Languedoc was awarded a regional Appellation d'origine controlee (AOC) classification as recently as 2008, with a number of vineyards producing premium wines of outstanding value, including rich, full-bodied reds, interesting whites, sweet dessert wines and even sparkling wines.
A little-known fact is that the first sparkling wines were produced in Limoux during the 13th century – Dom Perignon is said to have learned the secret from Saint Hilaire monks during a visit before returning the recipe to Champagne – and the region’s Cremant de Limoux are among the best Languedoc wines. As well as being the country’s main producer of standard vin de pays, Languedoc also produces more vins doux naturels than anywhere else in France. These ‘naturally sweet’ wines, typically using Muscat, are fortified with brandy for a unique taste. The five most renowned appellations producing the best Languedoc wines are Languedoc AOC (formerly known as Coteaux du Languedoc), Corbieres, Faugeres, Minervois and Saint Chinian.
At Wine Paths, our local experts can organise exclusive tours of all of these vineyards, including elaborate tastings of the best Languedoc wines, 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.
Wine tastings typically involve exploring the vineyards and wine cellars of local wineries where visitors are often given the opportunity to meet the owners and learn about the history and culture of wine making in the region. Of course, this is followed by tastings of the best Languedoc wines that can be accompanied by gourmet food pairings featuring the local cuisine for an unforgettable experience that satisfies all the senses.
There are also wine festivals held throughout the year – the locals rarely need an excuse to celebrate with local cuisine, wines 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 France Wine Tours, please visit this link.
Get all our exclusive travel inspiration and tour packages straight to your inbox!