Languedoc-Roussillon stretches all the way from Provence, along the Mediterranean coast to Catalonia in Spain. 220.000 hectares is under vine. This is almost twice as much of land as in Bordeaux that has 120.000 hectares under vine.
The winemaking history of Languedoc-Roussillon goes back to an area near Narbonne with the Greeks arriving 2500 years ago. These vineyards – not the vines – are still there! Together with some in Provence, these are the oldest planted vineyards in France.
For about 1500 years from around year 400, Languedoc-Roussillon was renowned for its production of quality wines. In fact, they even used local wines in early hospitals for their 'healing powers'.
Then from the early 1900s and with the industrial revolution, production shifted towards mass-production of cheap red wine for everyday drinking, and it stayed like that for a long time.
In recent years a massive transformation has taken place in Languedoc-Roussillon. Yes, you can still find uninteresting industrial wines on the supermarket shelves around Europe, but hidden away – and flying under the radar of many wine lovers – is a treasure of great crafted – yet still affordable – high quality wines. These wines are beginning to put Languedoc-Roussillon back on the world map of extraordinary wines. We encourage you to try them out, and to start you can begin to discover quality wines from Languedoc-Roussillon here on Avelyn.
The Languedoc-Roussillon wine region is as its name suggests made up of two sub-regions, Languedoc and Roussillon. The Languedoc sub-region is by far the biggest of the two, covering the area from the Corbières mountains (inland and North from Narbonnes and Carcasonne) all the way to Nimes and further.
Most of the vineyards are planted on plains with proximity to the Mediterranean coast. Soils are arid and summers are hot, with droughts always being a real risk – a particular problem when irrigation is not allowed, as it is the case with all French appellations (AOCs).
Hotter summers due to climate change has been a real catalyst for leading winemakers to combine tradition with state-of-the art techniques to revitalize quality winemaking under difficult circumstances. Their re-take on vineyard and winemaking practices have in recent years turned out a very diverse range of terroir-driven wines. Today Languedoc has the highest percentage of organically produced wines in France.
Most of Languedoc’s wines are red blends of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault, followed by rosé and white wines – many whites being made of Marsanne, Rousanne and Viognier (similar grapes to those familiar with wines from Rhône).
Great sparkling wines are also made (mostly on Chardonnay) following the “Champagne” method. Calling it the “Champagne method” can cause some argument in Languedoc as there seems to be evidence – in some 500 years old documents – that the “Champagne method” was actually invented in the Limoux area of Languedoc! Also, Languedoc produces some great sweet wines under four appellations, mostly from the Muscat grape variety.
The five best known appellations in the Languedoc are Languedoc AOC (also known as the Coteaux du Languedoc), Corbières AOC, Faugères, Minervois AOC, and Saint-Chinian AOCs.
Roussillon, the smaller of the two sub-regions with just 10% of combined production in Languedoc-Roussillon is nestled in between the Corbières mountains to the North, the Pyrenees to the west and the Albères Massif on the border to Catalonia in Spain.
Vineyards here are found in narrow valleys and on plains between the mountains. Three rivers crisscross Roussillon: Agly, Têt and Tech. All-together this defines a very diverse topography in the Roussillon region and with that many unique terroirs, each with its own specific characteristics.
This – and the fact that there are 24 approved grapes in the 15 appellations of Roussillon – makes it impossible to introduce what wines from Roussillon are like and taste like? Quality wines from Roussillon each have their distinct character – so there is really just one way to find out. Jump in and discover!
Food and wine from Languedoc-Roussillon
When you think food and wine from Languedoc-Roussillon think France, the Mediterranean Sea, and mountain villages. Each dish has its friend in wines from the region. Fuller reds – like those from Minervois, Saint-Chinian, Corbières and Faugères – pair well with roasts, venison in delicate sauces, blue cheese as well as salads with giblets and liver. Lighter reds – from Languedoc, Corbières, Cabardès, Minervois – work well with herb-flavoured grilled meat, pies and the French Mediterranean classic: ratatouille. Remember to chill the reds slightly to 14-16c. This helps to bring out the fresh fruit flavours.
Rosés always match well with olives and tapenades, tapas, starters, light salads, white meat, fish, vegetables with Provence herbs, pizzas, and more. Basically, we're saying it's super versatile!
As for white, if it's of lighter style try it with fish, seafood, bouillabaisse and cheese – following this simple guideline: the sturdier the food the fuller the wine.
With the sparkling? That is easy: Aperitif. Seafood and most things salty and fried. For dessert, fruit, chocolate-based desserts and pastry.
The transformation from industrial wine production towards crafted terroir-driven quality wines.What are the most popular grape varieties in Languedoc-Roussillon?
Reds: Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault. Whites: Marsanne, Rousanne and Viognier.What types of food works well with wines from Languedoc-Roussillon?
Mediterranean: Herb-flavoured grilled meat, pies and ratatouille. The sea, fish shellfish, soups.