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Languedoc

The vineyards of Languedoc cover a large area along the Mediterranean sea, between the Pyrenees and Camargue. Languedoc is in terms of quantity, the largest wine producing region in France. Long associated with table wines and "big red", wines of the Languedoc stand out today by their innovative style and quality. This has been recognized in May 2007 with the establishment of the regional AOC "Languedoc". This marks the beginning of a major new regional appellation in France.

History of wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon

- In the 5th century BC, Greeks  introduce viticulture in the south of France from their coastal settlements. The Romans then extend viticulture within the province of "Narbonaise" and develop the wine trade with the Gauls.
- After the fall of Rome, the Church and the monks continue to grow grapes and ensure the continuation of the vineyards in the region.
- At the end of the 13th century, Arnaud de Villeneuve, a doctor of medicine at the University of Montpellier, develops the process of winemaking sweet wines. It is adding alcohol to wine to stop fermentation and retain a portion of sugar.
- In 1531, the monks of the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Hilaire, near Limoux, are beginning to produce a sparkling wine a few centuries before Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk also, which will develop the champagne method in the 17th century.
- In the 17th century, the construction of the Canal du Midi gives an boost to the vineyards of Languedoc. Channels that crisscross the entire region, stretching from Toulouse to Agde and connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, facilitate the flow of wine.
- In the 19th century, the development of the railway network helps to promote the vineyards of Languedoc, where cheap wine is produced for the mine workers in northern cities of France.
- At the end of the 19th century, the wine regions of Languedoc are devastated by phylloxera.
- In the early 20th century, the phylloxera crisis is followed  by demonstrations and popular uprisings. These events put pressure on the government and contributed to the development of laws on designations of origin.
- The crises of the early 20th century led many winemakers to unify in cooperatives. The cooperative movement is particularly active in the Languedoc. By itself, then Languedoc includes almost half of the vineyards of France.
- From the late 1950s, the decline of wine consumption in France encourages producers and directors of cooperatives to abandon production of quantity to shift to production of quality wines.

- Today, more and more producers produce excellent wines and offer among the best value in France.
- From May 2007, the region is now recognized as  the Appellation of Origin "Languedoc".



Grape Varietals

Red wines form Languedoc are produced from :


Carignan
Cinsault
Grenache
Syrah
Mourvèdre
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot



White wines form Languedoc are produced from :

Bourboulenc
Chenin
Grenache blanc
Ugni blanc
Maccabeo
Maursane
Clairette
Mauzac
Muscat
Viognier
Piquepoul white

 



Characteristics of wines

Languedoc wines are mainly red wines. It is hard to identify a unique style for the wines produced in the largest vineyard in France. They are generally sun-drenched wines and fruity, but can range forom light-bodied to full-bodied wines. It is interesting to discover each of the appellations and individual producers.


The sparkling wines Blanquette de Limoux and Cremant de Limoux come from vineyards surrounding the town of Limoux. Blanquette de Limoux claim the title of the oldest sparkling wine from France. Blanquette de Limoux is produced with the white grape Mauzac, to which is added 30% of Chardonnay or Chenin blanc. The name Cremant de Limoux allows up to 40% of Chardonnay or Chenin blanc.

The natural sweet wines of Rivesaltes, Banyuls of Frontognan and others have long been appreciated in France. The Rivesaltes are among the first wines have gained AOC status in 1936. These wines will serve both as dessert wine, or as an aperitif or to accompany foie gras. The best Rivesaltes have a taste called "rancio" due to a slight oxidation. These wines become brown with age and acquires aromas of raisins, nuts and prune.
 

Evaluations - Languedoc-Roussillon

Jean-Noël Bousquet La Garnotte, $11.90
Jean-Claude Mas Les Faïsses 2013, $19.70
Domaine de Fourn Blanquette de Limoux, $19.95
Domaine Borie de Maurel Minervois Esprit d'Automne 2012, $18.05
© 2017 Sommelier Virtuel, Montréal, Québec