Languedoc

Languedoc and Roussillon only became a joint region in 1972, however there differences are deserving of 2 seperate pages

 

History

600 BC 

Greeks arrived the wine region Provence, Greek planted vines throughout Southern France

 

125BC

"Via Domita" was the first road to be built connecting Spain, Italy and France. This road was built by the Romans.

 

 

Middle Ages 

 

8th Century 

Catholic church encouraged vine-growing and was a largest consumer of the wine.

 

Renaissance 

 

1531 

Monks of St Hilaire founded Sparkling wine whilst making Blanquette de Limoux 

 

1681

Canal du Midi opened

The Canal connects the Mediterranean port of Sete to the Garonne River in Toulouse. 

The Garonne River connects to the Port of Bordeaux, and then onto the Atlantic. 

 

This Canal would of mean a great way to export wine, BUT the wine merchants of Bordeaux were quick of their feet and set up laws preventing the sale of wines from the Languedoc to French and European markets.

 

1776

The laws blocking the wine of Languedoc were abolished. Wine trade began to pick up again 

 

1863 

Phylloxera came along, the pest destroyed the vineyards.

 

The Langudeoc was one of the first wine region in France to re-plant their vines using American rootstocks. 

 

Due to their speedy re-plant whilst other region were still tip toeing along by 1900 they were the largest supplier of wine in all of France

 

1972 

Lauguedoc and Roussillon were joined as 1 region 

 

Location

The Languedoc is The largest wine producing region in France

 

The Langedoc is located in South-west France

 

The South-Eastern end of the region lies on the coast of the Mediterranean.

 

  To the North is the Rhone Valley To the South is Roussillon 

Climate

Climate - Mediterranean

 

2.530 sunshine hours a year

 

Summers - Hot and dry - this allows the grapes to reach complete ripeness every year making for high yielding vines

 

Winters - Mild Weather hazards Storms -can the flood area , if the storms arrive before harvest they can damage and destroy the vines

 

Mediterranean Sea - moisture is brought to the vineyards, this is a potential mold and mildew hazard. 

 

The mistral wind coming from the North can be praised for swooping through the region cooling the hot air in the summer months and reducing the risk of mold 

 

Geology & Topography

Soil

 

Mountain slopes 

 

Soil - stony shale and limestone 

 

The limestone found here known as "garrigue" is so nutritionally poor only herbs like rosemary, thyme and small oak trees are able to grow and Ofcourse the vine ! 

 

Plains and foothills 

 

Soil - younger soils made up of granite, gneiss, clay, marl and schist. 

 

Alluvial soil = fruity white and rose wine

Granite, schist, clay, marl = powerful reds! spicy that are age-able

Topography

 

Coastal alluvial plains of The Languedoc are located along the coast of the Mediterreanan.

 

The plains are a flat area with fertile soils. Wine produced here is usually IGP level

 

Behind the coastal plains there are mountains and hill sides.  The vines here can be planted up to 400 meters above sea level

 

How do the mountains influence the vine?

 

They store heat during the day and cool the area in the evening, creating a constantly sunny growing environment

 

Block rain laden clouds, the rain shadow effect just like in Alsace (Vosges mountains)

 

Minervois

St Chinan 

Limoux

Gauge 

Pic St Loup

 

 To the South west of the region there is a small area known as "Atlantic corridor" Vineyards are elevated  Atlantic breezes  Bordeaux varieties are widely planted here

 

Production

Largest wine producing region within France

 

Languedoc produces 58% of France's IGP wines 

 

73% - IGP wine 

 

21% - AOC wine 

 

6% - Vins Sans IG

grapes can be sourced from any country within the European Union, vines are high-yielding and their is very little regulations from production

 

 

Grape Varieties 

White AOC grapes 

 

  • Grenache Blanc

  • Grenache Gris

  • Bourboulenc

  • Clairette

  • Chenin Blanc

  • Mauzac

  • Chardonnay

  • Piquepoul Blanc

  • Rolle (Vermentino)

  • Marsanne

  • Roussanne

  • Muscat a Petits Grains Blanc

  • Maccabeu

 

 

Red AOC grapes

 

  • Grenache Noir

  • Carignan 

  • Mourvèdre

  • Syrah

  • Cinsault

  • Aspiran

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Cabernet Franc

  • Merlot

  • Malbec

  • Pinot Noir 

very small amount of plantings

Llandoner Pelut,  Fer Servadou (known as Fer)  Piquepoul Noir and Terret Noir

 

Famous appellation areas of Languedoc 

 

St Chinian

Fitou

Minervois

Corbieres 

 

Produce red blends, Carignan dominant with the blending partners Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache.  New AOC areas are ditching the Carignan grape.

 

The blends contain Syrah and Mourvèdre but wine makers opted to choose blending partners such Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec 

 

 

IGP Grapes

 

All the AOC grapes are allowed to be produced as IGP wines

 

56 varieties are approved for IGP wines

 

Listed below are the allowed for IGP wines

 

Red wine

 

  • Carmenere

  • Gamay Noir

  • Marselan

  • Mondeuse

  • Morrastel

  • Muscat a Petit Grains Rouges

  • Negrette

  • Nielluccio (Sangiovese)

  • Petit Verdot

  • Portan

  • Tempranillo

 

+ all of the grapes approved for red AOC 

 

Secondary grapes - Carignan, Chenason, Alicante Bouschet

 

Rose wine

 

  • Carmenere

  • Gamay Noir

  • Gewürztraminer Rose

  • Marselan

  • Mondeuse

  • Morrastel 

  • Muscat a Petits Grains Rouges

  • Muscat de Hambourg

  • Negrette

  • Nielluccio (Sangiovese)

  • Petit Verdot

  • Pinot Gris

  • Portan

  • Sauvignon Gris

  • Tempranillo

 

  + all of the grapes approved for Rose AOC 

 

Secondary grapes - Carignan and Chenason Noir 

 

White wine

 

  • Altesse

  • Chasan

  • Colombard

  • Gewürztraminer

  • Gros Manseng

  • Petit Manseng

  • Pinot Blanc

  • Pinot Gris

  • Riesling

  • Sauvignon Blanc 

  • Sauvignon Gris

  • Semillon

  • Sylvaner 

  • Terret Blanc 

  • Viognier

 

+ all the grapes approved for the white AOC 

 

Secondary grapes - Carignan Blanc, Clairette Blanc, Picpoul Blanc

Ugni Blanc ( Trebbiano)

 

IGP level wine

 

Doesn't have to adhere to set a strict rules.

There are the regulations it does have to follow regarding labelling. 

 

If wine is labelled by the variety  Example - Pays d'Oc Semillon 

The wine must be a minimum of 85% the varietal that appears on the label

 

No variety appears on the label,  Wine must be

minimum of 50% primary grapes

maximum of 50% secondary grapes

 

Example, wine labelled Pays d'Oc  and no variety is listed and the wine is white

 

Multiple grape varieties can appear on the label 

If they are primary grapes and are  Over 15% of the blend

 

Whites grape can be used in red and rose production

variety must not exceed 20%

Red and White grapes must be co-fermented 

 

Appellations

AOC 

 

IGP

 

Vin Sans IG

 

AOC Langeudoc - 2007 

 

14 different districts that can append their name to AOC Langedoc on the label

 

78% Red

12% White 

10% Rose 

 

Wine MUST be a BLEND

 

Red  Grenache Noir, Lledoner Pelut, Syrah Mourvedre (min 50%) Cinsault, Carignan (max 40%) 

 

White Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Rolle, Clairette, Picpoul

 

AOC Langeudoc replaced Coteaux du Languedoc 

BUT both terms can be used on the label up until 2007

 

The 14 Districts that can append their name onto AOC Languedoc

 

  • Gres de Montpellier

  • Pic St Loup

  • Terrasses du Larzac

  • Montpeyroux - independant AOC located with Terrasses du Larzac 

  • St Saturnin - independant AOC located with Terrasses du Larzac 

  • Pezenas 

  • Cabrieres

  • La Clape 

  • Sommieres

  • St Christol 

  • La Mejanelle 

  • St Drezery

  • St Georges d'Orques

  • Quatorze

Oldest AOCs of Languedoc 

  • Clairette du Langedoc 1948

  • Fitou AOC 1948


2 AOC focus solely on White wine production

  • Clairette du Languedoc AOC 

  • Picpoul de Pinet AOC  


Clairette du Languedoc AOC 
Received status 1948
Produces White wine
Grape variety Clairette
Soils Limestone, in the North limestone with schist 


Picpoul de Pinet AOC 
Received status 2013
Produces White wine
Grape variety Picpoul 
Soils Limestone
Production 80% is co-ops 


Faugeres AOC 
Received status 1982 red/rose 2005 white
Produces Red 85% Rose 13% White 2%
Location Planted on the foothills of the Cevennes Mountains 
Grape varieties 
Red - Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault 


White - Grenache Blanc, Roussane, Marsanne, Vermentino, Bourboulenc, Clairette 
Soil Schist 


Saint Chinian AOC 
Received status 1982 red/rose 2005 white
Produces Red 89% Rose 10% White 1% 
Grape varieties 
Red - min 70% of the following grapes Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Lladoner Pelut 
Blending partners - Carignan and Cinsault 


White - min 90% of the following grapes Grenahce Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne, Vermentino
Blending partners Carignan, Clairette, Viognier, Macabeu, Bourboulenc
Soil In the. North Schist, South - Clay,limestone


Minervois AOC 
Received status 1985
Produces Red 84% Rose 4% White 2%
Grape varieties 
Red - min 60% of the following grapes Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache 
Blending partners Carignan, Cinsault, Terret, Aspiran, Piquepoul 


White - Roussanne, Marsanne, Macabeu, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Muscat a Petits Grains, Vermentino 
Soil Clay, limestone 


Corbieres AOC 
Received status 1985
Produces Red 95% Rose 3% White 2% 

 

Largest non-regional AOC in Languedoc 
4th largest non-regional AOC in France

 

Grape varieties 
Red and Roses - Carignan based 


White - max 10% Muscat and then the following grapes Grenache Blanc,Bourboulenc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Vermentino, Clairette, Terret 
Soil - limestone with Schist 


Fitou AOC 
Received status 1948
Produces Red 
Grape varieties min 60% of the following grapes Carignan, Grenache
Blending partners Syrah and Mourvèdre 
Soil  in Fitou - Clay and limestone Haut Fitou - limestone and sandstone
2 sub-zones 
Fitou Maritime (close to Mediterranean coast) 
Haut-Fitou - 30km from the coast, vineyards are located in the midst of mountains 


Cabardes AOC 
Received status 1999
Produces Red 90% Rose 10%
Grape varieties min 40% oft he following grapes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
Blending partners - max 20% Malbec, Fer Servadou and Cinsault min 40% Syrah, Grenache
Soil Limestone - On the slopes granite, gneiss mixed in with the limestone 


Malepere AOC 
Received status 2007
Location - Most westerly appellation 
Produces Red 80% Rose 20% 
Grape varieties 
Red - min 50% Merlot, min 20% Cot (Malbec) min 20% Cabernet Franc 
Blending partners Grenache, Cinsault

Rose min 50% Cabernet Franc
Syrah can also be incorporated into the blend
Soil Clay and limestone


Limoux AOCs

There are 5 different AOC within Limoux 
2 AOCs are for still wine 
3 AOCs are for Sparkling wine

This sub-region is located in the "Atlantic corridor" at its most Southern part

Styles produced in the 5 appellations are Red, Rose,

White and Sparkling


Soil - limestone, sandstone, Quartz, Clay 

Varieties found here are 

Red - Merlot, Cot (Malbec), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Syrah and Carignan 

White/Sparkling - Mauzac, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir 



Blanquette De Limoux AOC  - Sparkling wine
Received status 1938
Grapes - min 90% Mauzac 
Blending partners Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc 
Oldest sparkling in the world, long before Dom Perrignon was around 
9months sur lie aging
Style - Brut or Demi-Sec


Cremant De Limoux AOC - Sparkling wine
Received status in 1990 
Grapes - min 40% Chardonnay, 
min 20% and maximum 40% Chenin Blanc


Together Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc can not exceed

90% of the blend
Blending partners  - Mauzac and Pinot noir 

The typical blend for this Sparkling is
60% Chardonnay + 30% Chenin Blanc + 10% Mauzac 

Sparkling rose was permitted in 2006 
Produced by blending Pinot Noir max 10% to the assemblage (cuvée) 


Blanquette Method Ancestrale AOC - Sparkling 

 

Grape - Mauzac 

2 different methods of production for Sparkling wine within this AOC

 

1- Semi-fermented grape juice is chilled in December and bottled in March under the waning moon. 

This results in a slight sparkling wine, the wine is also cloudy because yeast is still present 

 

2 - Modern technique, Semi-fermented grape juice is chilled and then bottle. Once bottled yeast is added and disgorge after 2-3 months

 

Maximum alcohol level is 7%

Residual sugar6-8%

Aging - minimum of 2 months 

No liquear d'expedition is allowed - the addition of sugar 

 

Limoux AOC - White and Red 

 

Grape varieties 

Red 

min 50% Merlot 

min 30% Cot (Malbec) Grenache, Syrah 

max 10% Carignan

up to 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc 

 

Regulations

Blend of atleast 3 varieties

Machine or hand harvested 

Aging in tank or barrel for min 7 months 

 

White 

Mauzac, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc 

 

Regulations 

Mauzac must be atleast 15% of vineyard area 

Hand-harvested

Barrel fermentation

min 7 months Barrel maturation 

Lees Stiring 

 

Limoux AOC

Produces outstanding high quality Chardonnay

 

 

Vin Doux Naturels AOC 

 

There are 4 AOCs for VDN in Languedoc 

 

Muscat de Lunel AOC - located near the coast towards the city Nimes 

 

Muscat de Mireval AOC - located near the coast close near Montpellier 

 

Muscat de Frontignan AOC - located near the coast, slighty south of Montpellier 

 

Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois AOC - located away from the coast in the Southern end of the region

 

Single variety fortified sweet wine 

Grape - Muscat a Petits Grains Blanc

 

Mutage - Is the term used for the process of arresting a fermenting must with grape spirit. 

 

Fermenting grape juice is fortified with a neutral grape spirit, produces a wine with a minimum residual sugar of 11%

Alcohol levels are between 15-18%

 

Regulations 

Hand harvested 

No irrigation 

 

IGP Indication géographique protégée

 

IGP wine production has less regulations than AOC 

wine makers are allowed to do the following 

 

  • place vintage and variety on the label 

  • harvest at higher yields

  • use oak chips/staves 

  • Allowed to use more grape varieties 

 

3 IGP categories 

 

Regional IGP 

 

Pays d'Oc IGP - produces 40% of all French IGPs 

 

Departmental IGP

 

3 departments in The Languedoc (mostly is consumed in France)

 

IGP Aude

IGP Herault

IGP Gard 

 

Local IGP 

 

Small in size 

IGP Cotes de Thongue 

IGP Mont Baudile 

 

Vin Sans IG 

Barely no regualtions for this catagory. 

Grapes can come from any country in the European Union 

Yields are almost double the size of AOC areas 


 

 

 

 

Viticulture

Just like in Provence many exsisting vines are planted using the Goblet method, many new vines are trained using the Guyot methond 

 

Vineyards are commonly facing East-West providing maximum sun exposure 

 

Irrigation 

Grower must submit a petition to irrigate vineyards

Irrigation can be allowed during May 

Drought risk during the growing season 

 

Organic wine growers 

Languedoc-Roussillon has the highest number of certified organic wine growers roughyl 1,300

 

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